Mascoma’s Plan for Ethanol Plant in Michigan Likely Delayed, CEO Says

5/24/10

Lebanon, NH-based Mascoma has made strides with its process for producing ethanol from non-food plants such as wood chips and grass. Yet the firm is likely to delay the start of production at its first planned commercial facility, in northern Michigan, company CEO Bill Brady says.

Mascoma had been aiming to open a plant in Kinross, MI, by 2012. Now, Brady says, the facility is more likely to open in 2013—and the company has not secured the debt and equity funding it seeks to pay for the project. Though he would not say how much it would cost to build the proposed Kinross plant, Brady says that such facilities typically cost more than $100 million.

To hear Brady tell it, the financial meltdown bears much of the blame for slowing down plans for the Michigan plant. “There’s no doubt that the financial crisis in 2009 was a setback to all of the cleantech world, and so the financing that’s ever so important to this first plant has definitely been delayed,” the CEO says. “So that’s really been the big issue in terms of timing.”

In October 2008, Mascoma said that it had garnered grants of $26 million from the U.S. Department of Energy and $23.5 million in grants from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to help build and support the facility in Kinross. Brady, who joined the company as CEO in January, says that part of the state grant was to fund research and development of the firm’s technology, and that some of those funds have been spent. Yet the CEO declined to say how much of the state grant remained for building the production plant. The DOE grants also included funding for both research and plant construction.

Mascoma is working on multiple fronts to advance the project in Michigan. One big effort is to prove the commercial … Next Page »

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