$1.7M grant will improve barge access for proposed pellet plant

By Erin Voegele | October 21, 2020

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration announced on Oct. 20 a $1.7 million grant to improve barge access at the Port of Epes Industrial Park in Alabama. The project will benefit Enviva’s pellet plant under development at the site.

“The Trump Administration is committed to helping communities in Alabama and across the nation grow through strategic investment,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “This project will fund improvements to transportation infrastructure at the Port of Epes Industrial Park to help a major wood pellet company increase their operational capacity, attract new businesses, and advance efforts to capitalize on the project’s Opportunity Zone designation.”

The grant award is being made to the University of West Alabama, located in Livingston, Alabama. The EDA grant, to be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $540,000 in local funds and is expected to create 85 jobs and generate $175 million in investment.

Enviva announced in December 2019 it had received approval to construct a wood pellet plant at the Port of Epes Industrial Park in Sumter County, Alabama. The plant is expected to have an initial production capacity of 700,000 metric tons per year, with possible future expansion to 1.15 million metric tons per year. In its second quarter financial results, released in August, Enviva said a final investment decision on the Epes facility is expected to be made near the end of this year.