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GREC sells Gainesville biomass plant to GRU for $750m

Gainesville Renewable Energy Center (GREC) has divested its 102.5MW biomass facility in the US state of Florida to electric utility Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) for $750m.

A partnership of Energy Management, BayCorp, Starwood Energy and Fagen Power, GREC brought the facility into commercial operation in late 2013. Massachusetts-based American Renewables built the plant at a cost of $500m.   

Located in Gainesville, the wood-fired GREC facility is considered to be among the largest biomass power plants in the US. It is located on a 131-acre parcel of land leased from the city of Gainesville.

The plant features a wood fuel handling system supplied by Wolf Material Handling to process the biomass fuel received from various sources. 

The GREC biomass plant has a 30-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with city-owned utility GRU through which it sells all of its energy, capacity and environmental attributes.

GREC CEO said: “Our biomass project had an excellent safety, environmental, and operating history. The sale was prompted by the recognition that both GREC and GRU could unlock enhanced value through this transaction.”

The acquisition of the biomass plant by the city of Gainesville through GRU is expected to bring savings of $768m in the next 30 years and reduced power bills for customers, reported Gainesville.com, citing city officials.

According to Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe, the deal apart from decreasing electric bills provides the city operational control of a facility that produces clean energy.

The deal will not affect the 40-plus employees of North American Energy Services who work at the biomass facility, revealed GREC CFO Albert Morales.

GRU officials are looking to retrofit the biomass facility with an investment of nearly $15m. The biomass facility will be provided fuel by Bio Resource Management, a Gainesville-based company.