Coal Research Facility Delays Progress Due To Property and Funding Holdups

Dec 14, 2018

ACPIC location just north of Gillette
Credit The Advanced Carbon Collaborative Balanced Resources

The Advanced Carbon Products Innovation Center (ACPIC) was expected to finish construction north of Gillette at the Fort Union Industrial Complex by spring of 2019. Now, the coordinators of the project have requested a delay from the Wyoming Business Council.

The goal of ACPIC is to provide a place for businesses to research and develop products derived from coal, like graphene, carbon fiber, and carbon nanotubes. But Phil Christopherson, CEO of Energy Capital Economic Development (ECED) that's coordinating the project, said property issues are holding up progress.

"The thing that we're waiting on is for this land swap to be finalized and everything done so we can actually buy the land," he said. "We didn't know about the relocation of Highway 59. We didn't know about the land swap. We didn't know about the subdivision process. We thought it'd just be a 1-2-3 subdivision done and away we go."

ECED is looking to subdivide land purchased from Green Bridge Holdings, which is in a dispute with another landowner holding back the subdivision process, according to Mark Christensen, Campbell County Commissioner. But he said that issue could be solved right away if Green Bridge decided to bond.

"The real reason that the ACPIC is a little bit slower is because we're trying to get EDA funding," Christensen said.

EDA is the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The organization could match ACPIC's current funding of $1.5 million obtained from the Wyoming Business Council for initial construction. The application for the money was sent back for revision, but the EDA also advised patience with resubmission with funding issues. Christensen said that's been resolved thanks to a budget authorization extension.

"The benefit for us is it's taking a little bit longer, but we can basically double that money with no more investment from the city county or state," he said. "Now what we'll get is, at the $3-million level, we can actually build out ACPIC like it should be with some lab space and coal handling facilities and everything else to actually make it useful."

Christensen said the delay likely won't be three years, but closer to a year and a half or two years.

Christopherson said he's frustrated with the delay given ACPIC was lined up and ready to go with tenants, but those tenants have since gone elsewhere. The facility is partnered with University of Wyoming's School of Energy Resources.