EL CENTRO – The Board of Supervisors approved the final resolutions to permit the California Ethanol and Power Project to begin construction on Keystone Road at the Mesquite Lake Industrial Park.
The ethanol, electric, and bio-methane facility will be built on abandoned farmland. Fuel will consist of 41,000 acres of sugar cane supplemented by 33,000 acres of sweet sorghum, all grown in the Imperial Valley.
The 158 acre site and the 74,000 acres to grow the two crops are all privately owned lands. The facility plans to generate 49.9 megawatts of green energy with the plant consuming 16 megawatts for its own consumption.
The after product of the energy process will be sold as mining potash, a fertilizer.
During production the facility will use 66 million gallons of water daily, an amount the Imperial Irrigation District said was within the margins designated for future heavy industry in the Valley.
Construction will create 800 jobs and the bio-mass energy plant will hire 250 “inside the fence” jobs and an estimated 150 supporting jobs.
Chief Operating Officer at California Ethanol & Power LLC, Dave Rubenstein presented to the board why the plant processes sugarcane and sweet sorghum. He explained that they produced twice the ethanol yield of corn and uses the same amount of water as alfalfa and other forage crops.
As for the Imperial Valley, Rubenstein said his company wanted to be here for the available water, sunshine, and that the valley is one of the best areas in the world for growing sugarcane and sweet sorghum. The company expects for the valley to produce yields 40-50% greater than produced in Brazil.
Rubenstein’s company has engineered and installed numerous sugar cane to ethanol plants and biomass power plants in Brazil and the Americas. He told the board they will apply commercially proven technologies, processes and equipment adapted to meet California requirements when building and they have arranged for $669 million dollars in financing with major Brazilian banking export financing institutes.
Supervisor District 3, Michael Kelley, said, “This is an exciting dynamic win-win proposition. We created the Mesquite Lake industrial site and have yet to have any company take advantage of the benefits. You are the first industry to use our park and I hope this opens the door to many more moving in. Mesquite Park has been a thorn in our side for a long time. We have a place for industry with needed amenities, but we have had no takers.”