Zephyr Cove company plans a forest project | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Zephyr Cove company plans a forest project

John Seelmeyer
Northern Nevada Business Weekly

ZEPHYR COVE – A Zephyr Cove company says it is studying possible locations in Nevada for creation of forests that can capture and store carbon dioxide.

Privately held Equinox Carbon Equities Inc. says it plans to plant 3,000 trees at a dairy farm in California’s Central Valley. The company didn’t provide details of the location.

Billy Barnwell, chief executive officer of Equinox Carbon Equities, said the company is managing the project for a unit of INET Global AG of Wil, Switzerland.

A forest of kiri trees – the scientific name is Paulownia – also is planned north of Reno. Eco2 Forests of Sacramento expects to begin test planting at the Reno-area plantation this summer.

Because the trees capture carbon dioxide – a culprit in global warming – the new forests planned by Equinox Carbon Equities would generate carbon-offset credits that can be sold on carbon-trading exchanges such as California’s Climate Action Reserve.

If the California project proves successful, Barnwell said last week that Equinox Carbon Equities is looking for sites in Nevada, Utah and Arizona. The company expects the Western states could see planting of a million trees on four farms totaling 4,000 acres during three to five years. Equinox Carbon Equities employs about a half dozen staff members at its Lake Tahoe headquarters.

In a press release, Equinox Carbon Equities said the Central Valley project would cost $3 million. It didn’t provide financial details of its arrangement with INET Global AG.

A year ago, Equinox said it signed a letter of intent with Geosummit LLC, which planned to purchase a 40 percent in Equinox for $20 million. A few weeks later, Barnwell told a reporter for Reuters that his company had fielded at least one more offer for $30 million, and he reportedly said the $20 million offer represented far less than half the value of Equinox.

In an interview last week, he said the deal with Geosummit LLC still is active, although the global economic slowdown means deals can take years to come together.

Barnwell said last week that his current company, which was created in February 2009, now has 80 shareholders and is preparing to move into finance, brokerage and consulting in the carbon-offset industry.

The company says it’s looking at projects ranging from a wind farm in Southeast Asia to landfill methane gas projects in Europe. “The biggest challenge we have is getting people to open their wallets and help clean up the environment,” he said.

In 2008, Barnwell and other owners of a predecessor company known as Equinox Carbon Equities LLC struck a deal to sell an 80 percent interest in the company to American Environmental Energy Inc. of Costa Mesa, Calif.

American Environmental said last week it would provide comment from its attorneys about the dispute with Equinox. The response isn’t yet available.

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