Coskata Eyes Florida Sugar To Biofuel Plant, While "Weeks From Closing Funds"

Coskata, a startup working on next-generation cellulosic ethanol, is talking with Florida sugar producer U.S. Sugar Corp about building a plant that produces biofuels from sugar cane on its land. While U.S. Sugar is in the process of selling its land in the Everglades to the state of Florida for $1.75 billion to be restored, Florida Governor Charlie Crist has endorsed building ethanol on the land as a way to keep jobs in the area. Coskata’s CEO Bill Roe tells us that the company is very interested in the project but is waiting for the state to work out the land management issues. Meanwhile Coskata’s general manager of marketing, Wes Bolsen, says that the negotiations are ongoing and that he plans to meet with the staff of Gov. Crist next week.

The news of Coskata building a possible $400 million, 100-million-gallon-per-year Florida plant first came out late last week as part of local Florida newspapers’ reporting on the state’s buyout plans . For Coskata, the local sugar cane could offer a low cost feedstock and be one of 10 plants that Bolsen tells us the company could envision building in Florida.

Ambitious plans like these require more funds. While we’ve reported that Coskata is in the process of raising a $50 million Series C round, Roe said on a panel at AlwaysOn GoingGreen this morning that the company “is weeks” away from closing that round. The funding will be led by JP Morgan Chase and will include “new investors” that are “some of the most high-profile in the country,” according to Bolsen. Coskata is already backed by almost $30 million from Globespan Capital Partners, GM, Khosla Ventures, GreatPoint Ventures and Advanced Technology Ventures.

Bolsen said the company was initially looking to raise $50 million, but that there’s been so much interest, they’re struggling to figure out the size. The funding also “shows that very large sums of money are still moving toward great renewable fuel ideas,” Bolsen said.


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