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PDA asks PSC for extension on $200 million P&G project

Green energy P&G project would bring jobs, tax funds to community

Albany-Dougherty Payroll Development Authority Chairman Jeff Sinyard, left, discusses a $200 million renewable energy project with the authority at a special called meeting Monday morning as authority council Jay Reynolds looks on. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

Albany-Dougherty Payroll Development Authority Chairman Jeff Sinyard, left, discusses a $200 million renewable energy project with the authority at a special called meeting Monday morning as authority council Jay Reynolds looks on. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

ALBANY — The letter sent to the state Public Service Commission by the Albany-Dougherty Payroll Development Authority Monday had sizeable implications for the community — around $200 million worth in fact.

The PDA board OK’d sending the letter to PSC Commissioner Chuck Eaton as a precursor to the commission’s Thursday meeting, at which it will decide whether to grant Procter & Gamble Albany and Sterling Energy Assets another 45-day extension in which to finalize financing of a $200 million biomass project that would increase the paper products company’s renewable energy usage by 30 percent.

The extension would also allow the “third leg of a three-legged financial stool,” Constellation Energy, enough time to put together the “$3.7 million to $3.8 million” in collateral deposit required to move forward with construction of the plant on the P&G-Albany campus.

“We have a term down here in the South: ‘hunting without dogs,’” Sinyard said. “That’s what P&G and Sterling were doing while they were looking for a financial partner. Over the 4th of July holiday, Constellation Energy came on board and is ready to become the third leg of the three-legged financial stool holding this project up.

“With Constellation on board (P&G and Sterling) have some championship dogs to hunt with.”

The one possible sticking point with the PSC is that the agency has already granted two extensions while the principals sought funding.

“That’s why we wanted the PDA board to send the letter,” Sinyard said. “The EDC (Economic Development Commission), which has been working on this with us, has already sent a letter. We want the Public Service commissioners to know how important this is to our community.”

The letter says, in part:

“The Albany Procter & Gamble Paper Products Plant, the second-largest of P&G’s paper facilities, has been supporting Albany-Dougherty County for more than 30 years, providing jobs for our residents and bolstering our tax base. … P&G’s domestic paper plant consumes 80 percent of the energy used by the company. A biomass boiler at the Albany facility uses steam to power the plant. The P&G/Sterling project would increase that steam output and help P&G meet its goal of increasing its usage of renewable energy by 30 percent by 2020. …

“Albany and Southwest Georgia have suffered great corporate losses in the last 10 years. … We realize that the Public Service Commission has two important matters regarding the P&G/Sterling project. Both the extension of the commercial operating date and the extension of the collateral deposit are key for the realization of this $200 million project, which is critical to Southwest Georgia.

“Procter & Gamble’s bioenergy partnership with Sterling Energy Assets will strengthen Procter & Gamble’s position in Albany. It will create jobs for our citizens and revenue for our coffers, and it will highlight Albany as a green location. The Albany community supports projects that provide opportunity, stability and strength to the community’s existing industrial base and that offer those same qualities to its residents.”

In offering his support for the letter, PDA board member Jim Deal said, “We certainly need to get behind this, no doubt. And there’s not much time.”

Also at the meeting, the authority voted to allow Phoebe Putney Health System’s proposed purchase of a Hirsch Properties-owned warehousing facility within the Pecan Grove Corporate Park to stand for its agreement to construct a new warehouse for its planned development in the park. Purchasing and repurposing the Hirsch warehouse would also eliminate the need for Phoebe Health System to exercise its right of first refusal on other property within the industrial park.

“This is a good thing for everyone,” Sinyard said. “The Hirsch warehouse will not be vacated, Phoebe will occupy and conduct business at the park sooner than anticipated, and Phoebe will no doubt landscape the land around the warehouse, which is located at the main entrance of the Pecan Grove Park.

“Plus, now we have another piece of prime property in the park that we can market, and that property will be enhanced with (Phoebe) as a tenant.”

“I agree, this is a definite win-win for the community,” board member James Griffin said before the vote to approve the changes sought by PPHS.