VERO BEACH — A company creating a cutting-edge process to develop ethanol from organic garbage expects to begin construction at the old Ocean Spray grapefruit plant near the county landfill by next fall.In a speech before the Indian River Neighborhood Association, Tex Carter, president of the joint venture company which will produce the fuel-grade ethanol, said he expects to hire between 40 and 50 people to run the test plant when it becomes operational.
The facility, a joint venture between INEOS Technologies and New Planet Energy, to be called INEOS New Planet BioEnergy, is expected to produce 8 million gallons of ethanol a year and produce enough of its own electricty to run the plant and sell excess capacity on the open market.INEOS New Planet BioEnergy is working out purchasing the land and getting all the necessary permits in place, but Carter said he expects the plant to be under construction by the third quarter of this year. In addition, the company has already worked out an agreement with the county to buy the wood-based garbage it needs from the county.In addition, the company will hire 150 to 300 construction workers depending on the timeframe they’ll need to build the plant, which could take up to two years.Carter said New Planet BioEnergy settled upon Indian River county because Florida produces no ethanol on its own and must purchase it on the open market. Most of the ethanol used in the U.S. either comes from the Midwest or from overseas.”One of the advantages was that we could produce clean ethanol, as opposed to the corn-based ethanol, in the location where we could sell it,” he said.The Indian River County plant will be the first of its size in the world and if successful could lead to production on a much larger scale serving population centers of up to a million people.The federal government granted seed money of $50 million, with INEOS and New Planet Energy providing matching funds, to help the plant get off the ground. If INEOS New Planet BioEnergy is successful in producing the targeted 8 million gallons of ethanol a year, it would then go out and raise its own capital for expansion.Carter said if all goes as planned after five years the plant would be producing 32 million gallons of ethanol a year and with about 120 to 150 full time jobs.