Report: Hopewell ethanol plant will be shipped to England - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Report: Hopewell ethanol plant will be shipped to England

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HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) -

Two days after city leaders confirmed the sale of a breakthrough ethanol plant, details emerged that the Hopewell facility will be disassembled and shipped to England.

The plan is outlined in a project overview document, prepared by London investment firm Future Capital Partners. According to the proposal, Future Fuels LLP will dismantle, ship and re-erect the facility in Grimsby, 180 miles north of London.

The document reports taking apart the Hopewell facility, piece by piece, will be less expensive than building a new ethanol plant at the site in Northern England. The proposal from Future Capital can be viewed here.

In an interview Wednesday, Hopewell Councilor Christina Luman-Bailey announced British firm Future Fuels bought the city's ethanol plant for an undisclosed sum.

The investment proposal reveals Future Fuels paid $13 million for the site, once valued at more than $180 million in 2010.

The plant was the first commercial venture in the United States built to produce ethanol from barley. After two years of false starts, original owner Osage Bio Energy LLC never opened the site.

The company ran into money trouble, and failed to achieve a critical advanced bio-fuels certification.

The Future Capital document states the bio-fuels certification was an essential part of the plant becoming commercially viable.

Hopewell Mayor Michael Bujakowski said Friday even though the plant will likely be dismantled, the city now has nearly $2 million stemming from the sale. The funds were transferred to the city's coffers, and can be used to benefit the entire community.

"We're talking about trying to build a new public safety building," said Bujakowski in a phone interview Friday. "We'll combine police and safety operations in one place, and it would be nice to pay for that with cash, rather than borrowing."

The influx of funds comes from $1.9 million in overdue taxes and legal fees Osage owed for failing to open the plant. The money will also replenish Hopewell's surplus fund, recently used to give raises to city teachers and employees.

Bujakowski said part of the original ethanol plant could remain at the site, and Future Fuels will most likely sell the 55 acre parcel when it completes the disassembly.

"It's my understanding, that it is not their intent to just hold this property and continue to pay real estate taxes year after year," Bujakowski said. "They're going to sell it."

Future Capital Partners' London office did not return requests for comment Friday.

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