Cate Street Capital – Thermogen Industries & Burgess Biopower
Global leaders are facing big issues on how to protect our environment while producing enough power to meet ever-growing demand. Government regulators worldwide are forcing power generators to reduce toxic emissions. In America’s northeast, they’re also requiring more power generation from alternative, renewable sources. A New Hampshire based investment firm, Cate Street Capital, has developed ways to solve both problems, with new technologies that utilize sustainably harvested forest products.
Cate Street Capital is built on the belief that emerging technologies can provide sustainable solutions to our world’s biggest challenges. Through two of its subsidiaries, Thermogen Industries in Maine and Burgess BioPower in New Hampshire, Cate Street is taking its unique technologies to market, providing investors a chance to not only save the planet, but make a solid return in the process.
“Cate Street Capital has invested hundreds of millions in fairly unusual industries that rely on new technologies,” says Richard M. Cyr, Cate Street Capital’s chief marketing officer. “We are researching, developing and launching companies that create sustainable solutions to some of the biggest problems our world is facing.”
With a total of eight subsidiaries in various stages of nurturing innovative technologies to full commercial viability, Cate Street Capital is also creating new green jobs in places that could really use them.
In Millinocket, Maine, for example, Cate Street is developing Thermogen Industries on the site of a shuttered paper mill. When the mill closed five years ago, hundreds were laid off and unemployment soared to 21 percent. Now, Cate Street Capital is building Thermogen’s torrefied wood pellet facility there, and transforming unused mill buildings into a high-tech, dark fiber campus to attract other growing companies. Ultimately, this will diversify the region’s economy and create more sustainable jobs over the long term.
Thermogen itself is expected to employ more than 100 workers during peak construction and approximately 100 full-time employees at full capacity. The facility is expected to begin producing torrefied wood pellets by the end of this year.
In Berlin, N.H., 230 miles to the east, Cate Street is building its $275 million Burgess BioPower biomass power plant. The project is immense, putting more than 530 contractors and subs to work this spring. At 75-megawatts, Burgess BioPower will be the largest biomass power plant in the northeast, employing 40 full-time workers. It’s scheduled to be producing electricity by early winter.
Like Thermogen, Burgess is located on the site of a former paper mill that closed its doors in 2006 and left the community in economic distress. Millinocket and Berlin are welcoming the new construction and permanent jobs, as well as hundreds of new jobs in the nearby woods, as foresters and haulers will provide each company with biomass raw materials by the hundreds of thousands of tons each year.
Thermogen’s torrefied wood pellets, known as Aurora Black®, will help coal-burning power plants and large institutions reduce their harmful emissions to meet newer, more stringent clean air standards. Its exclusive torrefaction process changes the properties of wood through a proprietary microwave technology. Microwaving creates a water-resistant wood pellet which has the same heat output as coal, but burns much cleaner. Aurora Black® will offer advantages for specific applications and will meet the federal definition of a “renewable and alternative fuel” due to its ability to reduce the power plants’ sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and greenhouse gas emissions. And because Aurora Black® doesn’t decompose in the elements like white pellets, it can be shipped overseas while maintaining its high, consistent product performance.
This addresses global concerns about generating power from a fossil fuel like coal – a non-renewable source that produces noxious emissions and greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere. By supplementing their use of coal with Aurora Black®, an economical, sustainable and carbon-neutral torrefied wood pellet, existing power plants can remain viable, keeping rates stable and predictable over time. Recent co-firing test trials in U.K. power plants confirmed Aurora Black’s® strong performance.
Cyr, who serves as Thermogen’s CEO and president, notes that Aurora Black® does more than help coal-fired plants reduce harmful emissions. “It provides improved boiler efficiency and performance, and is compatible with existing equipment – so generators can meet stringent emissions standards without having to install extremely expensive stack scrubbing equipment,” he says.
With respect to co-location opportunities in Millinocket, Thermogen will anchor a unique technology center called Great Northern Industries. Companies will be offered renovated space for little or no rent with state-of-the-art fiber communications and very competitive rates for heat, power and water. Surrounded by one of the world’s largest, richest wood baskets, the site offers a steady supply of forest products, strong road, rail, and waterway infrastructure, and proximity to deep-water ports for overseas shipping.
In addition to creating new jobs and stimulating New Hampshire’s North Country economy, Burgess BioPower will help the Granite State address its need to generate more power from renewable sources.
Like many states, New Hampshire adopted Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) which requires it to produce an increasing percentage of its power over time from sources like wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. Placing a 75-megawatt biomass power plant online will go a long way toward helping the state meet its RPS goals.
The plant has been engineered to comply with all requirements for renewable energy generation content and emissions and nearly all of its power over the next 20 years is under agreement for purchase by Public Service Company of New Hampshire, the state’s leading utility.
Like Maine’s Millinocket region, Berlin thrived for decades as a world-leading center of papermaking. Greater Berlin fell on hard times as the paper mill gradually decreased production and finally shut down seven years ago. As it is doing in Millinocket, Cate Street Capital is encouraging companies to co-locate on its vast Berlin site by offering low rent and competitive utility rates.
“Thermogen Industries and Burgess BioPower are similar projects in that each utilizes forest products and emerging technologies to produce clean, renewable power,” Cyr continues. “At Thermogen, we are producing the fuel, and at Burgess we are directly producing the power.
“We are very proud to be revitalizing depressed economies in each state and creating good, new jobs that will be viable for decades to come at each location,” Cyr adds.