Sylacauga courts bio-energy company
by MATT QUILLEN
Oct 08, 2009 | 2320 views |  26 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SYLACAUGA — City officials held a reception Thursday at the Municipal Complex for a prospective business owner.

Councilman Manuell Smith introduced Erick Burton to those who attended. Burton, managing partner of Lumen Chemicals, Energy and Agriculture, spoke in the council chambers.

He said he was on a “fact-finding mission” for a renewable energies project. Burton said the city was brought to his attention by Smith.

“We spoke about the project, he asked what the needs would be and he said, ‘We have everything you need right here,’” Burton said.

He said the proposed facility would produce between 400 and 1,000 jobs.

The projected cost would be $60 million, not counting the price of land. He said he was looking for a lot of at least 250 acres for the site.

Smith invited Burton to speak to the community. He said Burton would return later this month to meet with more people.

“We’re going to try to get all the entities in place to make it happen,” Smith said. “What I liked about what he said was it’s not going to cost the city any money. That made me smile.”

Burton said he was not looking for an investment from the city. He said they would only ask for the customary tax abatements and other perks given to new businesses.

The Lumen Group is based out of Long Beach, Calif. The group’s Web site said the company is “a network of wealth creation companies with a full range of financial products and services.”

Burton said the Lumen Group decided to buy into this particular energy program, and the projects are funded completely through their own private hedge funds.

“We create energy from bio-sources, such as the sun, the wind and agriculture,” Burton said.

He said his company has built five other facilities similar to the one he proposed. This would be the first plant they will own and operate.

Burton spoke about the different aspects of the proposed plant. He said the facility would produce bio-diesel, along with more than 1,300 other bio-chemicals. It would also feature a crushing facility.

“It’s a totally green chemicals plant, it has zero waste,” Burton said. “It’s a closed loop system; we produce all the energy needed to run it. We produce our own water, so there will be no strain to the environment.”

Burton said he hoped to have the plant constructed within an eight to 12 month period, following preliminary approval. That approval included a “feasibility” study and talking with various boards.

He also discussed a training program to be put in place for employees. He said the training facility would cover all components of the business, including solar, wind and agriculture, along with the plant.

Burton said federal mandates requiring a petroleum and bio-diesel blend would allow for the company to grow.

“The opportunity is enormous, to start with a 100 million gallon [bio-diesel] plant here and then expand from there,” he said.