BREWER, Maine — Maine Liquid Methane Fuels LLC and city officials say they have gone through nearly all the state and federal red tape required to establish the state’s first liquid methane fuels plant, which is scheduled for construction next year. The plant will produce transport and heating fuels.
“Things are going quite well,” Sasa Cook, project manager and vice president of the New Hampshire corporation, said Tuesday. “We’ve received all of our permits except one, so far, and our understanding is the other permit is being drafted.
“Everything is going forward, but it’s taking a little bit longer than we expected,” he added.
The liquid methane fuels plant, estimated to cost $50 million to build, will sit on 10 acres and be the anchor tenant in the new Brewer Business and Commerce Park, located off Wiswell Road behind the landfill.
The plant will tap into the nearby Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline that runs through the selected parcel in the business park. The facility will liquefy and purify the natural gas so that it can be transported by truck. The plant, similar to others in Massachusetts and California, will produce several different fuels.
The project will create 12 to 20 full-time jobs and six to 10 transport-related jobs.
Construction is scheduled to begin sometime between April and June and will take 16 to 18 months to complete, Cook said.
“We’re shooting for November or December of 2012” to begin selling liquid methane fuels, he said. “We are in the process of drafting fuel purchase agreements with fuel clients.”
He said the company will continue to educate business owners and the public about the benefits of using liquefied natural gas as a transport and heating fuel.
The city gained approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in November to upgrade, pave and extend a short dirt road into the proposed business and commerce park, and hired a firm to design it.
“We got approval from the DEP, and we’ll probably start construction in the spring,” D’arcy Main-Boyington, Brewer’s economic development director, said Tuesday. “We have everything we need to go forward with the driveway. Once it’s completed, they can start their project.”
At its Nov. 16 meeting, the City Council hired Sebago Technics Inc. of Westbrook for $250,000 to design, permit and provide construction administration services for the business and commerce park.
City leaders learned in February that Brewer would receive a $1.28 million earmark for the new 320-acre, approximately 60-lot business park, and will use the funds to pay for a portion of the cost of adding water and sewer lines, Main-Boyington said.
The Maine Liquid Methane Fuels project gained unanimous Brewer Planning Board approval for the plant in February. A few minor changes have been made to the site plans, which will be presented to planners on Monday, Jim Wilson, an engineer from Woodard and Curran of Bangor, said Tuesday.
“The biggest reason we’re back before the planning board is [that] Maine Liquid Methane Fuels is going to produce its own power on the site,” he said.
A truck maintenance building on the original site plan has been changed into a generator building, he said. Another change is the removal of a large tower, which would have housed seven tanks but is no longer needed, Wilson said.
“That would have been visible,” he said. “Now you’ll see a row of tanks similar to a propane facility.”
The DEP has approved the project and issued a site location development permit, which covers traffic, sound, lighting, historic preservation and wetlands, Wilson said.
While waiting for the final permit and construction to begin, Cook said he will continue to educate people about the benefits of LNG fuels.
On Thursday he will attend the Maine Motor Transport’s annual meeting in Portland, and on Monday he will make a presentation to a group of transportation commissioners from all over New England.
“For all essential purposes it comes down to price,” Cook said, referring to the appeal of liquid methane fuels. “If you can buy a fuel at 30 to 50 percent compared to diesel, people are interested” in finding out more.
Maine Liquid Methane Fuels is headquartered in Portsmouth, N.H., but has offices in Maine, Cook said.
Christian “Chris” Hofford, president of the company, also is president of CHI Engineering of Portsmouth, a firm that specializes in liquefied natural gas facilities. Hofford has nearly 40 years of experience with liquefied gas plants.