Columbia Biogas to seek private financing
By Erik Siemers
The Columbia Biogas plant would take in liquid and solid food waste and convert it to electricity and fertilizer.
Columbia Biogas told Portland Mayor Sam Adams this week that it will no longer seek public funds to help finance a $55 million waste-to-energy facility proposed for Northeast Portland’s Cully neighborhood.
John McKinney, president of the Portland-based company, said in a letter to Adams that the project has received “significant interest from the financial community,” prompting a decision to finance the facility privately.
In an interview Friday, McKinney said having private financing available gave the company a new option. When considering the politics involved in a public partnership, the private option became the better choice, he said.
“It’s clear that there is significant cost savings to the city and businesses in the city. There’s a very good basis for a public-private partnership,” McKinney said. “But because of the politics and other reasons, now that we feel comfortable there is other financing opportunities that don’t require being a city partner, it’s easiest for everyone involved to finance it in that matter.”
The city on Friday said it will continue to assist the project, and Adams said he remains pleased Columbia Biogas has decided to locate the plant in Portland.
“I am also enthusiastic about the up to 3,000 Portland homes being powered by commercial food waste that otherwise gets trucked away, which helps us meet our Climate Action Goals and moves Portland closer to energy self-sufficiency,” Adams said in a prepared statement.
Adams also sent a letter to McKinney expressing his continued support.
As previously proposed, the plant — to be built near the intersection of Northeast Columbia Boulevard and I-205 — would leverage debt, a portion of which would be backed by the city. The debt would accompany federal energy and New Market tax credits to fill out the financing picture for the project, which has been in the planning stages for about 18 months.
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