Project Blackhawk received a preliminary green light from the Iowa Power Fund board at a meeting Wednesday at the Iowa Office for Energy Independence.
That brings the possibility of a new cellulosic biorefinery locating in Webster County one step closer.
Representatives from Dupont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC presented the full application for the project to the board, and the board agreed to move forward with negotiations.
"That means now OEI (Office of Energy Independence) will work with DDCE to prepare a term sheet, and the Power Fund board forms a negotiation committee," OEI public information and communications director Don Tormey said in a written statement. "The term sheet will then have to be approved by the power fund board before a move to negotiate a contract, then finally contract approval."
By approving the DDCE application, the board agreed to negotiate with the company over the $19.8 million it has requested. That funding would be a part of an overall $32 million incentive package.
While funding questions are being addressed, the question of where Project Blackhawk will settle remains unanswered. DDCE has yet to settle on a site for its cellulosic biorefinery which is capable of producing 50 million gallons of ethanol a year, according to the DDCE application. The North Central Ag Industrial Park near Fort Dodge and another site in Story County are two primary contenders for the project.
"This was a big step today. The project took one more step in coming to fruition and it makes the project much more viable," said Dennis Plautz, director of Fort Dodge Business Affairs and Community Growth. "The funding still involves both Webster County and Nevada, but an exact location has yet to be determined."
Plautz said Iowa remains in competition with another Midwestern state which offers comparable incentives to draw the project.
"At least now we're more competitive as a state, which is a step that both Nevada and Webster County needed to make the project viable in Iowa," Plautz said.
According to DDCE documents, a facility of this size could generate between $33 million and $53 million a year in the two-year construction time frame alone. The ongoing patronage by the company to area businesses after the facility is operational is estimated at as much as $4 million per year, the company claims.
The DDCE application states that Project Blackhawk would generate 65 full-time jobs, five part-time and 125 contracted employees. It states 135 positions would pay $40,000 a year or less, 50 would pay as much as $80,000 per year and 10 jobs would yield more than an $80,000 annual salary.
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