Published on 18th February 2022
A USD 1.7 billion advanced biorefinery is being built in Bon Wier by Texas Renewable Funds, a subsidiary of Scottsdale, Arizona-based renewable energy business USA BioEnergy. It is planned to produce 142 new jobs in exchange for an unknown sum of tax incentives.
Using solid, market-proven technologies, USA BioEnergy biorefineries convert sustainably produced wood waste into renewable diesel, sustainable aviation fuel, and naphtha (a gasoline blend stock).
The Newton County facility intends to convert one million green tons of wood waste each year into 34 million gallons of premium clean-burning transportation fuel, such as Sustainable Aviation Fuel, Renewable Diesel, and Renewable Naphtha. It also intends to increase its activities, bringing the biorefinary's capacity to 68 million gallons per year.
According to USA BioEnergy, the biorefinery design "includes carbon capture technology to prevent green-house gas emissions from contributing to CO2 levels in the atmosphere." "When compared to traditional fossil fuels, it is cleaner burning, ultra-low sulphur environmentally friendly renewable fuels that reduce emissions by 80%."
According to the company, an industry partner is constructing a pipeline to transfer CO2 to secure permanent geologic storage far underground. It has also obtained offtake agreements for all of the fuel it generates with one of the nation's major truck stop companies and one of the world's most prestigious airlines.
The biorefinery’s “demand for thinnings and wood waste will infuse the forestry industry in the Southeast Texas region with stable long-term revenue,” according to the company. It will also capture and sequester about 50 million metric tons of CO2 throughout the course of its operation, giving Texas Renewable Fuels "one of the lowest Carbon Intensity scores in the industry," according to the company.
The project would "support an estimated $1.2 billion in gross area product or economic activity during construction," according to Newton County Judge Kenneth Weeks. This includes "an estimated 585 direct construction and related worker jobs during construction with $877 million in direct revenues for construction related companies," according to him, which "will bring substantial improvement in the quality of life for Newton County residents."
Superintendent Michelle Barrow of the Newton Independent School District said the project benefited from Chapter 313 of the Texas Tax Code, a contentious policy set to expire at the end of the year.
""Newton ISD took part in a Chapter 313 incentive, which temporarily lowers a property's appraised value to attract corporate investments within the school district," she added. "The project will bring industry to Newton, which will help to improve our youth's education and the quality of life of our existing and future workers.""
At a Texas Oil and Gas Association gathering in San Antonio last week, House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, claimed plans were in the works to "replace Chapter 313, a critical incentive program to attract businesses to Texas."
However, it allows school districts to grant considerable tax cuts to renewable energy and other enterprises, like wind factories, for a period of ten years, which has long been regarded as Texas' largest corporate tax relief by Republicans and Democrats. The Texas Public Policy Foundation claims that school districts do not immediately "feel" the significant financial losses because taxpayers subsidize the gap through sales and other state-collected taxes, which means taxpayers pay significantly more over time, diminishing the value of their wages.
Between 2023 and 2049, the Texas Legislative Budget Board calculated that extending Chapter 313 will cost $9.6 billion in "local school district revenue losses."
According to a 2017 research, without the incentive, between 85 and 95 percent of the Chapter 313 projects would have been situated in Texas.
The incentives, Abbott said, will "further cement Texas as an innovative energy leader" and "bring unprecedented economic opportunities to Bon Weir and Newton County."