BREWER, Maine — Maine Liquid Methane Fuels LLC gained unanimous Brewer Planning Board approval on Monday to develop the state’s first liquid methane fuels energy plant.
Provided developers get the required state and federal permits approved, the plant, estimated to cost $50 million to build, will be located on 10 acres in the city’s planned business and commerce park, located off Wiswell Road down behind the landfill. It will be similar to plants in Massachusetts and California, which have used liquefied natural gas fuels for a number of years.
Jim Wilson, engineer from Woodard and Curran, presented the plans to the planning board and answered questions. Christian “Chris” Hofford, president of Maine Liquid Methane Fuels, and Sasa Cook, project manager and vice president of the limited liability corporation, sat in the front row.
“We’re elated,” Cook said after the vote. The approval is “an indication of the merit of the project and support of the city of Brewer.”
There was no public comment during the meeting, and only a handful of residents attended.
Hofford, who also is president of CHI Engineering of Portsmouth, N.H., a firm that specializes in liquefied natural gas facilities, has nearly 40 years of experience with liquefied gas plants, he told an audience last month at an informational meeting at City Hall.
The plant will tap into the nearby Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline that travels through the selected parcel of land in the business park. The facility will then liquefy the natural gas collected and purify it in order to transport it by truck.
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 has said.
D’arcy Main-Boyington, Brewer economic development director, said the project is exciting not just for the city, but for the entire region because liquid methane is clean, safe and far more economical than other types of fossil fuels used here in Maine.
The next step in the process is to apply for three state and federal permits, covering location, emissions and wetland impact.
“We’ve already started the process of getting those permits,” Cook said.
If all goes as planned, construction of the facility would begin in June and the plant would open in the late spring or early summer of 2011, Cook said.