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AUSTIN EDITION -- Canadian firm hired to build Minnesota power plant

Associated Press

BENSON, Minn. -- Fibrominn chose one of Canada's largest construction firms, SNC-Lavalin Group, to build its $150 million power plant in Benson.

The decision moves Fibrominn a step closer to construction of the 50-megawatt power plant, which will be fueled chiefly by turkey manure.

Before construction can start, Fibrominn must get an air quality permit from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. After it obtains the permit, expected in two to three months, it will sell $100 million in bonds to finance construction.

Carl Strickler, vice president of Fibrominn, said there's also some details to work out before a contract is signed with SNC-Lavalin. But he said, "We fully intend to have them construct it and their intentions are to build it."

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Benson Mayor Paul Kittelson said the announcement, made Tuesday at a news conference here, was a "a good sign" the project is still going forward. "I'll be happy and relieved when the first shovel goes into the ground," he said.

Fibrominn initially aimed to break ground last fall. The company's parent, London-based Fibrowatt Group, built and operates three power plants fueled by turkey litter in England.

Strickler said Fibrominn chose SNC-Lavalin because of its experience with large construction projects, including some pulp and paper manufacturing plants that use wood chips and other biomass for fuel. SNC-Lavalin had $2.3 billion in revenue last year and reported a project backlog of $3.5 billion at the end of the year.

SNC-Lavalin is based in Montreal, but a division from Vancouver will be in charge of the Fibrominn project. It will likely subcontract some of the work to firms in Minnesota and the Dakotas.

To prepare for construction, Fibrominn forged a contract to sell electricity to Xcel Energy, signed contracts with farmers and large turkey producers to supply turkey litter for fuel and received approval from the state Public Utilities Commission.

Strickler said MPCA has asked Fibrominn to investigate potential environmental effects of the products it will burn. MPCA has also required Fibrominn to do air quality studies on the potential affects the hauling of turkey litter. "We've bent over backwards to comply with their requests," Strickler told the Swift County Monitor.

Before the air quality permit is issued, the MPCA will conduct public hearings to gather comments from area residents.

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