Lincoln pulp plant, 2006. Credit: file photo

Lincoln has agreed to a 20-plus-year lease with a biofuels refinery that wants to produce wood-based heating fuel at the former Lincoln Pulp and Tissue mill site.

Biofine Developments Northeast plans to invest more than $100 million in the first phase of a multi-stage project that will develop the former mill site, now called Lincoln Technology Park, according to Diane Vatne of Bangor-based Sewall, a consulting firm that worked with the town to develop the master plan for the park. The Lincoln Town Council approved the agreement on Monday.

This marks the first concrete step in Lincoln’s quest to turn the approximately 387 acres of the former Lincoln Paper and Tissue mill site into a center for technology-driven industries. Ten acres will be used for the first phase.

The initial phase would create 160 jobs as the company ramps up to expand capacity, Vatne said. Once the project is completed, the company hopes to employ approximately 500 people, she said. Construction is expected to begin in July 2024. 

Biofine Developments Northeast Inc. said in July that it had reached a tentative agreement with Lincoln and Lincoln Lakes Innovation Corp. to open the multi-phase biofuels refinery on the property.

“We view this significant biorefinery project as the just the beginning of an exciting economic revitalization of the old mill site, with other beneficial projects to come,” George Edwards, the Town Council chairperson, said in a press statement.

Biofine Developments Northeast’s technology uses waste wood products to produce ethyl levulinate, which it says is a carbon-neutral substitute for home heating oil. The company plans to sell its product to both commercial and residential customers.

The company has developed its technology with the help of a grant from the Maine Technology Institute and support from the University of Maine’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute.

Biofine Developments Northeast will produce 3 million gallons of ethyl levulinate annually, along with coproducts of levulinic acid and biochar, from 125 tons of wood waste per day, according to Sewall, now doing engineering work for the biorefinery project.

The former Lincoln Paper and Tissue Co., once one of the Lincoln Lakes region’s biggest employers, closed its mill in 2015 after declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy and laying off 128 workers.

The town of Lincoln bought 76.6 acres of the former mill site in early 2018 with plans to develop it into a commercial hub.

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Julie Harris

Julie Harris has served in many roles at Bangor Daily News since she joined the staff in 1979, but is now on its senior editor team and editor of five of BDN's weeklies and their associated websites, including...