Enviva to build wood pellet plant in N.C.

By Anna Austin | December 21, 2010

Enviva LP has announced intentions to construct a 330,000-ton wood pellet manufacturing facility in northeastern North Carolina.

The company expects the project to bring 53 new jobs to the area of Hertford County’s Ahoskie, a town of about 5,000 people. Salaries will vary by job function, but will be well above the average-paying job in the county. The average annual wage for the new jobs will be about $38,700 not including benefits, and the Hertford County average annual wage is currently about $27,500, according to Gov. Bev Purdue’s office.

 The plant will be built at the former site of Georgia Pacific Lumber, and will annually require more than 600,000 tons of woody biomass. Enviva chose the location due to the region’s abundant resources and close proximity to ports.

 State and local government support was a key factor in moving forward with plans, according to John Keppler, Enviva chairman and CEO. Specifically, the plant received a $270,000 grant from the state’s One North Carolina Fund, a program that invests in state projects to create jobs.

 Enviva is contemplating the development of two or more additional manufacturing plants in the area. The company is not new to the pellet market, as it has been supplying wood chips and wood pellets to customers in the U.S. and Europe since 2007.

 Recently, Enviva announced a long-term wood pellet supply contract with Electrabel, a subsidiary of GDF SUEZ Group, one of the largest utilities in the world.  The company also recently acquired two Mississippi-based wood pellet manufacturers, Piney Wood Pellets and CKS Energy Inc.