International WoodFuels to build pellet mill in Maine

By Lisa Gibson
Posted July 23, 2009, at 3:52 p.m. CST

Burnham, Maine, will be the home of an International WoodFuels wood pellet plant capable of producing 100,000 tons of pellets annually from locally sourced wood.

A groundbreaking for the facility will be held late in the summer and the plant is expected to be operational by next summer, according to Laura Sawall, at International WoodFuels. The $20 million plant is a partnership between WoodFuels and Maine & Co., a nonprofit business development team, according to International WoodFuels.

WoodFuels uses only whole logs for its pellets and is in discussions with local landowners and foresters to develop long-term contracts, Sawall said. The facility will provide 35 new jobs, displace about 12 million gallons of heating oil annually and eliminate 133,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the company.

Burnham is 90 miles northeast of Woodfuels' existing Portland office, is the heart of Maine's wood basket and is close to Interstate 95, the state's transportation corridor, according to WoodFuels. The Community Energy Facility will be adjacent to Pride Sports, the world's largest manufacturer of wooden golf tees, allowing both to use the same source of wood fibers being brought into the area.

The site also is within one of the state's permanently designated Pine Tree Development Zones, created and implemented by Maine Gov. John Baldacci in 2004. The location will allow WoodFuels to take advantage of a number of state tax incentives that have been created specifically to promote growth in industries such as manufacturing and environmental technology.

WoodFuels only produces pellets for its own customers and delivers them locally, resulting in an ultra-low carbon process, according to the company. Customers are provided with a high-efficiency biomass boiler, storage silo, guaranteed delivered pellet supply and round-the-clock monitoring and maintenance of the system with no capital investment. Customers must use the installed system as their main source of heat for a 10-year Energy Services Agreement and will receive a monthly bill based on their Btu consumption, according to WoodFuels.

The company also has a pellet mill in the works in Virginia that will be operational by next summer with the same capacity as the plant in Maine, Sawall said. The facility used to be a wood chip mill and WoodFuels is converting it to a pellet mill, she added.