Alico discontinues cellulosic ethanol efforts

By Bryan Sims | June 02, 2008
Web exclusive posted June 9, 2008 at 10:10 a.m. CST

LaBelle, Fla.-based Alico Inc., a land management company, said it will no longer explore the development of a cellulosic ethanol facility.

The company was slated to potentially receive up to $33 million in grants and loan assistance by the U.S. DOE and another $2.5 million by the state of Florida to assist in partially offsetting the costs of its proposed cellulosic ethanol venture. Alico said it will no longer pursue these grants.

During the past year, Alico had been working with New Planet Energy LLC on the project. New Plant Energy said it will assume full ownership in its pursuit of the project Alico abandoned. Alico will have no further financial commitment or liability to New Planet Energy, the DOE or the state of Florida for the project.

"Despite Alico's decision not to go forward, New Plant Energy has assumed this project, has selected and is in the process of acquiring a site for the project in the state of Florida and intends to pursue the venture to its successful conclusion," confirmed Gary R. Smith, chief executive officer of New Plant Energy.

Harris Group Inc., a venerable engineering and design company headquartered in Seattle, Wash., will function as the project's owner and engineer firm for New Plant Energy, said Jim Stewart, New Plant Energy's vice president of marketing and public affairs.

New Plant Energy will implement a unique gasification/fermentation thermochemical technology which it licensed from Bioengineering Resources Inc. that will produce ethanol from cellulosic feedstocks, initially from yard, wood and vegetative wastes. Stewart said the project will be the first in the nation to utilize such a technology for the purpose of cellulosic ethanol production.

According to Alico, the impetus behind their decision to discontinue the partnership was that the company determined that the risks outweighed any reasonably anticipated benefits.

"In reaching this decision, [the company] will continue to focus on our core operations of real estate management, including agriculture and development opportunities to provide returns for our shareholders," said John R. Alexander, chairman and chief executive officer of Alico.

Alico owns approximately 135,000 acres of land located in central and southwest Florida where it's involved in various agricultural operations and real estate activities.

To learn more about Alico, visit