JEANERETTE, La. (KLFY) -– Iberia Parish will soon be the site of a major biofuel plant, which is expected to create nearly 300 new jobs, according to Louisiana Economic Development.

Delta Biofuel has announced it will invest $100 million for the construction and start up of a full-scale renewable fuel production facility in Iberia Parish that will convert sugarcane waste into feedstock for low-emissions energy generation.

The company is expected to create 126 new direct jobs with an average salary of $62,500. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in an additional 149 indirect jobs, for a total 275 new jobs in the Acadiana region.

“Louisiana has emerged as a leader in renewable energy through continued investment and innovation,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “As one of the nation’s top producers of sugarcane, producing more than 2 million tons of raw sugar in 2022, it is only fitting that our state will lead the way in the production and export of this new renewable fuel source. Once again we see how the transition to cleaner energy creates investment, jobs and opportunities across multiple economic sectors and regions of our state.”

The facility will be the first of its kind in North America for its use of bagasse, a byproduct of sugarcane production, to manufacture biomass fuel pellets on a commercial scale that can generate power at lower cost and with less greenhouse gas emissions than other biomass fuels, such as wood pellets.

“Delta is thrilled to reach this milestone and begin construction,” Delta Biofuel CEO Phil Keating said. “We look forward to putting waste bagasse to good use, solving a serious problem for the sugar industry and reducing GHG emissions.”

The total capital expenditure is 43% higher than the $70 million investment that was anticipated when the project was first proposed in 2021. The higher level of capital expenditure reflects increased labor and equipment cost, as well as Delta’s decision to increase the facility’s production capacity, officials said. 

“Iberia Parish is poised for growth and we are excited to hear that Delta Biofuels has reached this project milestone,” Iberia Parish President M. Larry Richard said. “We look forward to continuing progress with the project, the jobs it will create and the investment it will bring.”

Delta Biofuel expects to break ground in late June. When complete, the facility will have the ability to produce 340,000 metric tons of biomass fuel pellets annually, officials said.

Delta Biofuel has secured exclusive long-term agreements to acquire supplies of feedstock bagasse from five sugar mills in surrounding parishes. The company said it has long-term contracts primarily with power utility companies across Europe for the sale of more than 1.8 million tons of pellets over the next several years.