A Maryland investment group tied to the Dow Kokam battery plant project in Midland is proposing a $238 million energy development for part of the vacant Ford Motor Co. factory in Wixom.
Townsend Energy Solutions LLC pitched the idea to state legislators Wednesday, seeking a $50 million tax credit for the project. Townsend Energy is a subsidiary of the Hunt Valley, Md.-based private equity firm Townsend Capital LLC.
Townsend’s proposal comes on the heels of the recent unraveling of a joint venture that had been planned for the site since 2009. That plan also involved a company in which Townsend Capital is an investor.
Texas-based Xtreme Power was to redevelop the Wixom plant in a joint venture with Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Clairvoyant Energy. Xtreme Power is one of the many energy companies in which Townsend Capital invests, according to the company website.
Townsend Capital founder Dennis Townsend did not respond to a Crain’s request for an interview made with his secretary.
Ford Motor Land Development Corp. has been marketing the site for almost a month and will continue to look at users for the former assembly plant, said Stefanie Denby, marketing and communications director for Ford Land.
“We’re delighted that they have expressed interest,” she said of the Townsend proposal, “and we’ll continue to work with them and other interested parties. “We’ve had a lot of interest at that site.”
Ford stopped production at the plant in 2007.
Under the plan shown to Michigan legislators, Townsend would create a plant in Wixom to manufacture and develop automotive batteries, creating 875 direct jobs, according to materials supplied to the Senate Committee for Economic Development.
Townsend would create power stations that can charge electric vehicles. It would purchase power during off-peak times at a discount, then store the electricity and sell it through the power stations at a premium.
Townsend would work with Burlington, Vt.-based Dynapower Corp. to build the vehicle charging stations.
The project would take 400,000 square feet of the 4.2 million-square-foot Wixom building.
Under Senate Bill 855, the $100 million in state tax incentives offered to the failed Xtreme-Clairvoyant project would be scaled back to $50 million for the Townsend venture. The number of new jobs needed to qualify for funding would be increased from 500 for the past project to 750. If the project creates fewer than 750, the credit would be reduced $65,000 for every job not created.
The bill was referred from the economic development committee to the Senate’s Committee of the Whole with no date set for a vote.
This is far from the first energy project involving Townsend. The private equity firm has a subsidiary,Townsend Ventures LLC, that invests in energy-oriented projects.
Among those projects, according to the Townsend website, is Dow Kokam LLC. That joint venture involves multiple companies, primarily Midland-based Dow Chemical Co.
Townsend also invests in the Korean battery company Kokam Co. Ltd. and Encelium Technologies, which develops lighting control systems for commercial buildings.
Similarly, Townsend invests in Lumenergi, which develops “intelligent lighting technology” that can reduce lighting costs 50 percent to 70 percent.