PLAQUEMINE, La. (AP) — NFR BioEnergy plans a $312 million capital investment to install biorefineries at more than 10 sugar refining hubs in South Louisiana — subject to completing lease and biomass agreements with sugar mills — resulting in 450 new jobs.
Gov. Bobby Jindal and Frank Randazzo, the company's chief operating officer, said Monday that NFR BioEnergy will convert sugar cane waste, known as bagasse, into hardened energy pellets for use as renewable fuel at global power plants.
NFR BioEnergy has begun development of the first biorefinery in White Castle, Louisiana, where it is co-locating the facility with Cora Texas Sugar Mill.
Pending the sugar mill agreements, NFR BioEnergy will build a series of biorefineries across South Louisiana's sugar cane-growing region and create 450 new direct jobs, averaging $54,000 a year.
"Our sugar cane farmers have used innovation to create a greater product yield through breeding techniques, higher-performing equipment and the daily application of their ingenuity. We are proud to have attracted — for the second time this month — an innovative manufacturer that will be supporting and helping to grow the sugar cane industry here in our state," Jindal said in a news release.
"This project not only will create a new source of sustainable energy, but it will also create additional sources of fertilizer and lower waste and disposal costs for our sugar cane growers."
NFR BioEnergy, now based in Plandome, New York, will move its headquarters to White Castle as it completes the first part of the project.
A demonstration biorefinery will begin operations soon at the Cora Texas Sugar Mill, where NFR BioEnergy is leasing 15 acres. A larger, commercial-scale biorefinery also is being developed at that site with a targeted completion in time for the 2015 sugar cane growing and refining season.
NFR BioEnergy plans to negotiate long-term supply agreements with energy customers, chiefly electricity providers in Europe, but also secondary commercial and residential markets that employ energy pellets in heating units.
Significant hiring will begin in 2016 with a target of 127 jobs by the end of that year. The company would reach a capital investment of $312 million by the end of 2018 and employment of 450 by the end of its fifth project year in 2019.