Crews will break ground on St. Mary Clean Energy Center this month

Pineville, La.  – This month, crews will break ground on the St. Mary Clean Energy Center, a new power plant that will generate 50-megawatts of electricity through waste heat recovery from Cabot Corporation’s existing carbon black facility in Franklin, La. 

“By working with Cabot, Cleco will build a plant that will generate enough energy to power 17,000 homes with zero associated emissions,” said Bill Fontenot, chief operating officer of Cleco Power.  “This is a huge accomplishment for any utility.” 

Through Cabot’s current manufacturing process, heat is generated and released through a stack.  The new St. Mary Clean Energy Center will capture the heat to produce steam to drive a 50-megawatt turbine generator to produce electricity without increasing emissions, including carbon. 

Cleco is taking advantage of a unique opportunity to provide clean power that is reliably generated from a proven, commercially available technology.  Waste heat recovery meets the requirements of a renewable resource under the Louisiana Public Service Commission’s Renewable Energy Pilot Program. 

“Cabot has a long history of operating responsibly and has taken a leadership position in the carbon black industry. We are committed to reducing air emissions and protecting the environment in the communities where we operate,” said Martin O’Neill, senior vice president, Safety, Health and Environment at Cabot Corporation. “We have implemented a number of similar projects to capture waste heat from our manufacturing facilities globally, and will produce electricity without increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Together with Cleco, we will help to reduce pollution, while still providing reliable, renewable energy production.”

The St. Mary Clean Energy Center benefits customers. 

“The center brings new generation to an area of the state that has limited generation resources and will further diversify the fuel Cleco uses to power its fleet,” said Fontenot.  “It also allowed Cleco to retire Teche Unit 1, a 12-megawatt facility, and avoid the expenditures needed to upgrade the 1950’s plant.” 

Construction of the plant demonstrates Cleco’s commitment to the community. 

“Louisiana, and in particular, St. Mary Parish, has been hit hard by the downturn in the oil and gas industry,” said Fontenot.  “At the peak of construction, Cleco will have approximately 200 construction workers on-site which will create nearly $50 million in new business sales for St. Mary Parish.  Cabot also will employ approximately 200 additional contractor positions which will further the economic impact.” 

In addition to the temporary economic impact from construction, Cleco expects the St. Mary Clean Energy Center to be operational by March 2018.  Cleco will spend more than $2.8 million annually to operate the plant, and together, Cleco and Cabot will create 20 full-time jobs. 

“The St. Mary Clean Energy Center is an innovative project that supports our economy, helps us plan for our customers’ future power needs and protects the environment,” said Fontenot.  “Cleco will continue to seek renewable generation alternatives that make sense for our customers, as well as Louisiana.”