Biomass Plant Headed to Liberty County

Tallahassee will no longer be the site of a new biomass energy plant it has agreed to purchase power from.

The Georgia company BG&E informed the city Friday morning it will be moving to another site in Liberty County. The company says it had to make the decision to move from its first choice at Innovation Park after FSU notified them that the site was no longer available after failed negotiations with Tallahassee.

FSU, the city's largest utilities customer, was working on a long-term energy efficiency contract with the city. It's a multi-layered plan that includes an aggressive conservation campaign, along with water reuse and the establishment of renewable energy research center.

However, disagreements sparked over how much energy FSU should cut back on. The city is asking for as much as twenty percent, or 5MW.

FSU President T.K. Wetherell said that may not be realistic given the cutbacks the university has already made.

"We've reduced energy considerably. I don't know, I find it hard to believe, but maybe it is."

Tallahassee City Commissioner Allan Katz said the loss of the biomass plant is a tragic loss.

"Personally, I think it's a great loss for our community because of the economic development this would bring both in terms of jobs and dollars in this community. I believe this is a misunderstanding and my hope is FSU and the city can take care of that."

Part of the deal also includes financial incentives for FSU, based on how much energy the biomass plant would have saved.

City Commissioner Mark Mustian called the deal very generous, adding FSU should have to cut back.

"At the end of the day, the city does expect something out of the citizens out of any contract we enter into and it's not the tax payers responsibility to subsidize institutes of higher education."

Mustian said he too hopes all sides can come to an understanding.

BG&E says it may consider moving its site back to Tallahassee; however, a deal will have to come quickly.