Deadline for KiOR loan payment looms Wednesday

IDLE: The KiOR plant in Columbus is designed to turn wood chips into gasoline. The state loaned the company $75 million with a no-interest loan to build the Columbus facility..

By Steve Wilson | Mississippi Watchdog

The clock is ticking for green energy company KiOR.

The grace period for the company’s $1.875 million semiannual payment to Mississippi ends Wednesday at midnight. The Texas-based biofuels company has made all of its payments on a $75 million no-interest loan before the last one, which was due on Oct. 31.

The biofuels company owes Mississippi $69.275 million on a no-interest loan to build a first-of-its-kind plant to convert wood pulp into gasoline, fuel oil and diesel fuel in Columbus in eastern Mississippi.

A call and an e-mail for comment from KiOR were not returned.

Mississippi Development Authority spokesman Jeff Rent said his agency wouldn’t speculate about what will happen if an agreement isn’t reached between the parties.

“MDA, along with its counsel and advisers, will continue to communicate with KiOR with the intent of reaching a quick resolution that best protects the state’s interest,” Rent said. “MDA will take every measure to aggressively protect the state’s assets, and at the same time, work with our advisers to evaluate other potential uses of the Columbus facility.”

KiOR’s finances are in serious jeopardy, with its stock price on the New York Stock Exchange Monday hovering between eight and seven cents per share. It was delisted from the NASDAQ stock exchange in September after its stock price fell below the minimum bid price of $1 per share. KiOR has lost $24 million in the past quarter and $629.3 million since the company was founded in 2007.

Rent said Guggenheim Securities is still looking for a buyer for KiOR and its proprietary process that uses catalysts, heat and pressure to convert wood pulp into biofuels.

KiOR made $312,000 in the first six months of 2014 after selling 99,000 gallons of gasoline, diesel and fuel oil, well below the plant’s stated capacity of 13 million gallons per year.

The green energy chickens of then-Gov. Haley Barbour’s administration are coming home to roost and KiOR might be the worst of the lot.

Taxpayers also lost more than $26 million in 2012 on a loan to Twin Creeks Solar, which bought an 85,000-square-foot facility that’s now owned by the state.

The Columbus plant, which has been in an “idled state,” costs from $6 million to $10 million to run annually. In the filing, the company said revenue from the Columbus plant, if restarted, will be “limited and unpredictable, at least in the near term.”

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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