The town of Lincoln may see a refinery for a wood-based heating fuel move onto its former mill site.
Biofine Developments Northeast Inc. said Thursday it had reached a tentative agreement with Lincoln and Lincoln Lakes Innovation Corp. to open a multi-phase biofuels refinery development on the property.
Biofine Developments Northeast uses a technology that uses waste wood products to produce ethyl levulinate, which it says is a carbon-neutral substitute for home heating oil. BDNE plans on selling its product to both commercial and residential customers, said Mike Cassata, the company’s chief development officer.
“We believe our project will be an engine for economic growth in the community, and we’re excited to be a part of it,” BDNE chief executive Steve Fitzpatrick said.
The company has developed its technology with the help of a grant from the Maine Technology Institute and support from the University of Maine’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute. Those ties led the company to consider various sites in Maine as a potential hub for the biofuel development site, Cassata said.
“We came to the conclusion that Lincoln was the best site,” Cassata said. “This is an exciting time for us.”
The company would use 10 acres while developing the first phase of the biofuel site, he said.
“BDNE is an ideal anchor for this site repurposing, and a great catalyst for a range of upgrades and improvements at the mill,” said Town Manager Rick Bronson.
The agreement between BDNE, Lincoln Lakes Innovation and the town of Lincoln will be finalized once all three parties agree to a contract.
The former Lincoln Paper and Tissue Co., once one of the Lincoln Lakes region’s biggest employers, closed its mill in 2015 after declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy and laying off 128 workers.
The town of Lincoln bought 76.6 acres of the former mill site in early 2018 with plans to develop it into a commercial hub.
LignaTerra Global LLC, a North Carolina-based cross-laminated timber company, said in September 2019 that it planned to invest $131 million in a new factory on the property that would employ 100 people.
The company still plans to build on 15 acres of the Lincoln mill site, with plans to open the factory sometime in 2022 or 2023, said Jay Hardy, Lincoln’s economic development director. The pandemic slowed LignaTerra’s progress toward raising the capital it would need to open in Lincoln, he said.
The announcement of another prospective tenant at the Lincoln mill site marked the latest news that the site of another defunct Maine paper mill could see redevelopment.
A California company last month announced its plans to open a data center on a portion of the former Great Northern Paper Co. site in Millinocket. In neighboring East Millinocket, a Portland startup said earlier this year it planned to open a facility to convert low-grade biomass into biocarbon, becoming the first prospective tenant at the mill site there since the town acquired it last year.
Down the Penobscot River, an aquaculture company has been working to redevelop the site of the former Verso paper mill in Bucksport into a land-based Atlantic salmon farm.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Biofine Developments Northeast was a subsidiary of a Massachusetts company. It is an independently owned company based in Bangor that works closely with the University of Maine’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute .