BREWER, Maine — Maine Liquid Methane Fuels LLC is submitting plans today to build a liquid methane fuels energy plant to provide customers in the region with a cleaner and cheaper alternative to fossil fuels, a company official said.
The plant, estimated to cost $50 million to build, will be similar to ones in Massachusetts and California, which have used liquefied methane fuels for a number of years, said Sasa Cook, project manager and vice president of Maine Liquid Methane Fuels, Sunday.
“We’re intending to tap into the nearby Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline that travels through Brewer,” he said, and basically “we’ll be taking some of the natural gas and liquefying it, purifying it and distributing it via truck to customers [in the region] who, until now, have not had access to liquefied gas.”
There is an LNG storage facility in Lewiston, “but no other facilities [in Maine] are producing liquefied methane,” which is one variety of liquefied natural gas, Cook said. “What we’re doing by liquefying this product is reducing it in size by 600 percent. By reducing it in size, it makes it affordable to transport.”
One of the principals in the new limited liability corporation is Christian Hofford, of CHI Engineering of Portsmouth, N.H., a firm that specializes in liquefied natural gas facilities.
The company is submitting site plans today to Brewer city planners to build on 10 acres in the city’s new business district off Wiswell Road. The plans will be placed on the planning board’s February agenda.
“It’s an exciting project,” D’arcy Main-Boyington, Brewer economic development director, said Sunday. “This fuel source is readily available in California and it’s certainly a proven technology. It’s not a new technology; it’s been out there for a while.”
A public information meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13, at City Hall to allow anyone with questions to get them answered, she said.
“It’s clean, it’s safe and far more economic than other types of fuels used here in Maine,” Main-Boyington said. “This project is tremendously important, not only to the city of Brewer, but for the region” and the state.
The planned facility would provide 12 to 20 full-time jobs, and others related to transportation, and would be a huge investment in the city, Tanya Pereira, Brewer economic development specialist, said last week.
“This gives us a significant anchor tenant in our new business park,” she said. With the nearby natural gas pipeline and traffic infrastructure in Brewer, the location “makes the most sense.”
At first, Maine Liquid Methane Fuels will supply only large energy users, such as paper mills, seeking to reduce energy costs, Cook said.
“In the future, when the technology is right, it will be available to be used as transportation fuel,” he said.
Cook envisions small transportation companies, possibly even municipalities, having dispensers on their property that are supplied by the local LNG processing plant.
“We believe we can sell our product at a significant discount, with fewer emissions, and cleaner,” Cook said.
“We’re trying to introduce the supply here,” he added. “Once people see it’s available, the number of users will grow.”
If all goes as planned, the facility would open in the late spring or early summer of 2011, he said.