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News Articles

Capital's Greenleaf Power buys south state's largest biomass power plant

Sacramento Bee
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Ray Daysog

A local renewable energy start-up said it will acquire the largest biomass power plant in Southern California.

Greenleaf Power LLC, which relocated to Sacramento earlier this month, signed an agreement to purchase Colmac Energy Inc., which operates a 47-megawatt power plant in Riverside County.

The price was not disclosed.

"The Colmac facility is a significant acquisition for Greenleaf Power," said Hugh Smith, the company's president.

"It will be a flagship plant for our growing fleet."

Greenleaf operates biomass power plants that burn wood and plant waste to create electricity that's sold to local utilities.

Besides the Colmac plant, the company owns a 30-megawatt biomass plant in Wendel and a 28-megawatt biomass plant in Scotia.

Built in 1992, the Colmac plant will be Greenleaf's largest, with enough capacity to handle the electricity needs of about 47,000 homes.

The company will employ about 100 workers with the Colmac purchase.

Backed by private equity firm Denham Capital Management LP, Greenleaf was founded earlier this year in Westmont, Ill., but moved to Sacramento this month.

Smith said the company chose Sacramento because it is close to its power facilities and the city's cost of living is relatively affordable.

He added that the proximity to state lawmakers also was a key.

"Much of what affects our business is affected by policy-makers, so Sacramento seemed like a great location for us," Smith said.

The Colmac plant, in the town of Mecca, burns wood waste, green waste and agricultural residues under low-emission conditions to make electricity, which is sold to Southern California Edison under a long-term agreement.

"While wind and solar capture much of the attention in renewable energy, bioenergy remains a vibrant, but often overlooked mainstay of our clean energy future," said Scott Mackin, partner in Denham Capital.