Three Firms Partner on Biomass Project

Oct 27, 2011

LOUISVILLE – A unique three-member partnership utilizing the state’s first active energy services biomass project will bring $22 million in investment and 14 new jobs to Louisville, Gov. Steve Beshear announced Wednesday.  He joined community leaders and officials from The Lubrizol Corp., Zeon Chemicals and Recast Energy to announce the partnership will also keep 340 Kentucky workers on the job.

Lubrizol and Zeon are located adjacent to one another in west Louisville and share the use of steam and other utilities. Both facilities need steam, de-ionized water, waste water treatment and compressed air to operate. But in 2009, the utility provider for the two companies announced plans to close, leaving Lubrizol and Zeon without the steam and utilities they needed to continue production.

Instead of closing their doors or moving production elsewhere, Lubrizol and Zeon worked with state and local officials to develop a contract with Recast Energy to bring the third-party utility provider to the area – supplying the necessary steam and utilities for ongoing operation of the two facilities. 

As a result, both companies will remain operational in their current locations, saving 340 jobs, and Recast will hire 14 new employees to provide services in their new location.

“This cooperative effort between state and local government and the private sector is what economic development is all about,” Beshear said. “Together we can overcome obstacles by finding solutions that will not only generate new investment, but will also ensure the continued job security of Kentucky workers and long-term success of Kentucky companies. I thank Lubrizol, Zeon and Recast Energy for their commitment to the Commonwealth.”

The Governor began conversations with Zeon during his trip to Japan in 2009. Zeon Chemicals, headquartered in Louisville, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Zeon Corporation of Tokyo.

Recast Energy’s entrance to the market brings the first active energy services biomass project to the Commonwealth. Recast Energy converts cost-competitive biomass, or organic matter, into green electricity and thermal energy (steam) for its industrial customers.

Recast Energy is in the process of retrofitting a coal-fired boiler to consume clean biomass. The boiler is expected to be operational in the second quarter of 2012. The project is expected to entail a $12 million investment and will create 14 new jobs. Additional off-site jobs in the new biomass fuel supply chain created by this project are expected to add another 12 to 20 full-time people in the area through third-party fuel suppliers.

The Lubrizol Corporation, operating in Louisville since 2004, produces two families of products at the Louisville plant – Vycar® latexes, used in a wide range of coating applications and TempRite® CPVC resins, used in a wide range of extrusion and molding applications. Lubrizol will invest nearly $6.5 million and retain 128 Kentucky employees.

Headquartered in Louisville since 1989, Zeon Chemicals produces specialty elastomers for a variety of customers, including those in the automotive, industrial and housing industries. The company’s $3.5 million investment will retain 212 local jobs.

To facilitate this partnership and reinvestment, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved Lubrizol and Zeon for tax incentives up to $1.75 million each through the Kentucky Reinvestment Act. 

“This announcement is a major step forward for Kentucky in two key ways. First, it preserves hundreds of jobs at a time when we need them more than ever, and, two, it helps address long-term environmental issues that have been endemic in our community,” state Rep. Reginald Meeks of Louisville said in a press release from the governor's office. “This is great news for west Louisville and for Jefferson County, and I’m happy it signals the arrival of Kentucky's growing biomass industry.”