Enviva thanks NCDEQ for work related to Northampton permit

By Erin Voegele | August 28, 2019

Enviva Partners LP issued a statement Aug. 20 thanking the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality for its work during a recent comment period and hearing regarding Enviva’s effort to update the permit for its Northampton pellet plant.

Enviva has requested to make several modifications to the air permit for the Northampton plant, including the installation of additional air emissions control equipment, a 235,000 increase in the facility’s annual permitted production volume, and an increase in the percentage of softwood that can be processed at the facility. The Northampton plant currently has an annual production capacity of 510,000 metric tons per year. Pellets produced at the plant are transported to Enviva’s Port of Chesapeake in Virginia, and primarily exported to customers in Europe.

The company said it has made a commitment to voluntarily install additional air emissions control equipment that it believes is above and beyond what is required under the Clean Air Act for this type of permit. Enviva also indicated the new air quality control measures will ensure the facility meets or exceeds all regulations while improving the efficiency of the plant. The company said it has conducted due diligence to confirm Northampton plant’s sourcing area ha commercially available low-value wood that meets its strict sustainability requirements in sufficient quantities to supply the plant at the proposed increased production level. The increased use of softwood pine would provide the facility with greater flexibility in its sourcing, Enviva said.

Economic analysis cited by Enviva shows the Northampton plant contributes more than $150 million annual in regional economic impact. The facility supports nearly 300 direct and indirect jobs, and Enviva said the plant’s average hourly wage is more than double the per capita county income. Enviva has invested over $100 million at its Northampton plant, and in addition spends approximately $70 million in operating expenses per year. According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of families in Northampton County living below the poverty rate has decreased by over 15 percent since Enviva’s Northampton plant opened.

“Environmental stewardship is the foundation of our business and this includes working to improve the environmental conditions in the communities in which we operate,” said John Keppler, chairman and CEO of Enviva. “The voluntary improvements to the air quality controls at our Northampton facility are a great example of that work.”

“The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has argued—as recently as last week—that bioenergy is an important component to halting the world’s temperature rise and that sustainable forest management, including harvesting for energy, is key to maintaining and increasing forest area.”

“As stewards of a cleaner environment who work every day to reduce use of fossil fuels, we are proud to install these increased air quality controls at our facilities across the Southeastern United States,” Keppler continued. “Thank you to NCDEQ for creating a forum that encourages stakeholders to engage on this important matter. We very much appreciate our stakeholders and supporters in North Carolina for their active participation.”