VIASPACE CEO, Dr. Carl Kukkonen, has returned from Nicaragua after a series of business meetings, the company announced today. The visit resulted in a Joint Development Agreement with Grain Hill/AGRICORP for the creation of a new special purpose company to develop, build, own, and operate a 2,100 acre Giant King™ Grass plantation and a co-located 12 MW biomass power plant on the AGRICORP Agricola Miramontes plantation. Dr. Kukkonen and Grain Hill/AGRICORP CEO and Board President, Amilcar Ybarra-Rojas, signed the agreement.
AGRICORP is a subsidiary of Grain Hill, a diversified agro-industrial business group in the agricultural industry. It has revenues of $300 million per year with operations in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and El Salvador.
"AGRICORP is a strong and highly respected company," remarked Dr. Kukkonen. "I am confident that together we can rapidly bring this renewable, green energy project to Nicaragua. The key to successful financing and operation of a biomass power plant is having a reliable, low-cost source of biomass for the lifetime of the power plant. With our co-located Giant King Grass plantation, we will be growing our own fuel. Furthermore, AGRICORP is already growing and milling rice on the same plantation. The waste products are rice straw and rice husks and these can be burned in the same power plant. We will have the security of both fuel sources."
VIASPACE Chairman, Dr. Kevin Schewe, added, "Our partnership with AGRICORP is an example of perfect timing. We are actively discussing similar Giant King Grass plantations co-located with power plant projects in several countries around the globe. We believe that our project with AGRICORP in Nicaragua will be an international model that can be scaled and replicated anywhere there is a suitable climate and growing conditions for Giant King Grass. This is the ideal project for VIASPACE because we will receive a license fee for Giant King Grass and also will be an equity partner in the power plant. This is the future and the growth path for our company."
Dr. Kukkonen's trip to Nicaragua was jam-packed with business related to this agreement. He and AGRICORP personnel met recently with government officials and private companies to get project development off the ground. This included obtaining all necessary governmental approvals and licenses, long-term power purchase agreements, debt and equity financing, and a contract with an Engineering Procurement and Construction (NYSE:EPC) company to build the power plant.
Dr. Kukkonen also met with US Embassy Commercial, Energy and Agriculture officers in Managua, and obtained background information and advice on doing business in Nicaragua. He also met with PRONicaragua, an entity which facilitates foreign investment in Nicaragua.
According to the agreement, VIASPACE and AGRICORP will be equal shareholders and will lead the development of the plantation and power plant project. The companies will solicit debt and equity financing, and interested parties can access a brief description of the project on the VIASPACE website at VIASPACE.com.
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