Wood-pellet plants could create 250 N.C. jobs

Last updated: August 20. 2014 3:08AM - 2569 Views
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Rick Wood | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MCTEnviva — a company that produces wood pellets like these for utility companies to use instead of burning coal — has proposed to build three new facilities in the region, including one in Richmond County.
Rick Wood | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MCTEnviva — a company that produces wood pellets like these for utility companies to use instead of burning coal — has proposed to build three new facilities in the region, including one in Richmond County.
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ROCKINGHAM — A Maryland-based biofuels company wants to build several new facilities in the region, including one in Richmond County.


Enviva, a biomass fuel producer, has proposed the construction of wood-pellet plants in Richmond and Sampson counties, as well as one in South Carolina, the company said Monday.


The three plants would export their product through a proposed terminal at the Port of Wilmington.


The company says it is currently in the process of securing construction permits for the projects.


Sampson County is slated to be the first facility in operation, followed by the proposed site in Richmond County.


County officials were tight-lipped about the proposed project, citing confidentiality agreements.


“The development of these projects is expected to bring considerable environmental and economic benefits to the region,” Elizabeth Woodworth, marketing director for Eniva, said in a Monday release. “The demand for low-grade wood fiber, procured to the stringent standards of leading sustainable forestry organizations, encourages responsible forestry by enhancing financial returns for forest landowners and thereby providing them with an incentive to keep forests forested.”


The company expects to create more than 250 direct jobs in the region and support more than 450 jobs in related industries, if plans go through.


According to its website, Enviva currently has five facilities in three states, including two in northeastern North Carolina. The company has been “supplying wood chips and wood pellets to customers in the U.S. and Europe since 2007.”


An Enviva wood-pellet facility in Northampton County opened last May, boasting 79 full-time employees.


That site produces wood pellets that are exported to European utility companies “as a low-carbon coal alternative to improve the environmental profile of energy generation.”


The company’s flagship facility — built at the site of a former Georgia-Pacific sawmill — has been in operation since 2011.


“Our manufacturing footprint in North Carolina plays an important role in meeting that demand and in delivering environmental and economic benefits both to our customers and to the region’s forests, timber owners and logging and manufacturing work force,” Enviva Chairman and CEO John Keppler said last year.


Both facilities — along with another in Southampton, Virginia — export from the Port of Chesapeake in Virginia. The two sites in Mississippi export from the Port of Mobile in Alabama.


Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-817-2675.


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