EDA awards $10M grant to build pellet storage at Florida port

By Erin Voegele | July 23, 2019

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration is awarding a $10 million grant to the Panama City Port Authority in Panama City, Florida, to support the development of a new biomass bulk storage facility.

In a statement issued by the EDA, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said “the new biomass storage facility will increase the bulk cargo exporting capabilities of the port by 300,000 tons per year and protect the port against future extreme weather.”

The project funding will help build the biomass bulk storage facility and a conveyance system that will connect it with the existing flat warehouse bulk terminal. The EDA said the facility will enhance the resiliency of business operations by reducing product damages resulting from natural disasters, which will help limit interruption of exports and prevent job loss.

Enviva Partners LP ships wood pellets produced at its 700,000-metric-ton-per-year pellet plant in Cottondale, Florida, out of a deep-water terminal located at the Port of Panama City. In tweets issued July 18, the company thanked Assistance Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fleming, Port of Panama City Executive Director Wayne Stubbs and other officials for the grant.

The $10 million grant is to be matched with $3.2 million in state investment. The project is expected to create 25 jobs and generate $70 million in private investment. The project was funded under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, in which Congress appropriated to EDA $600 million in additional Economic Adjustment Assistance Program funds for disaster relief and recovery as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, wildfires and other calendar year 2017 natural disasters under the Stafford Act.

Last month, the EDA awarded $1.4 million to a project that is making infrastructure improvements to the George County Industrial Park in Lucedale, Mississippi, that will benefit a proposed 1.4-million-metric-ton-per-year wood pellet plant under development by Enviva. That grant was also funded under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.