Louisiana to host wood pellet plant

By Anna Austin
Posted April 21, 2010, at 2:45 p.m. CST

Point Bio Energy LLC has selected the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, La., as the future location of a proposed $100 million wood pellet plant, after conducting a national survey of possible project sites in the U.S.

Plans for the facility were officially announced on April 21 by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Point Bio Energy CEO Bill New, Port of Greater Baton Rouge Executive Director Jay Hardman, Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain and Baton Rouge Area Chamber President Adam Knapp.

When complete, the plant will produce 450,000 metric tons (496,000 tons) per year of wood pellets derived from locally sourced woody biomass as well as wood delivered by barge from other locations on the Mississippi, Atchafalaya and Red rivers, and the Intracoastal Waterway through existing barge unloading facilities.

Point Energy intends to ship the pellets overseas for use in Europe because of that country's well-established fuel pellet market.

Hardman said the project is one of the biggest for the port in recent years, and will be the first green industry to locate there. "Plans for the plant have been and continue to be well received [in the area]," he said.

Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will generate $12.9 million in new state tax revenue and $9.6 million in local tax revenue over the next 10 years, bringing the port an estimated total of $825,400 per year. In addition, up to 100 new direct jobs and 273 new indirect jobs are expected to be generated from the plant's construction.

Point Bio Energy expects to make use of Louisiana's Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption (ITE) programs. The ITE program provides property tax abatement for up to 10 years on a manufacturer's new investment and annual capitalized additions and applies to all improvements to the land, buildings, machinery, equipment and any other property that is part of the manufacturing process. The state's Quality Jobs program provides a 5 to 6 percent cash rebate of annual gross payroll for new direct jobs for up to 10 years and a 4 percent sales/use tax rebate on capital expenditures, or a 1.5 percent investment tax credit for qualified expenses.

Construction of the wood pellet plant is expected to begin this summer and commercial pellet manufacturing operations are expected to commence in the last quarter of 2011.

Hardman said the port commission hopes to give the final approval for a 20-year lease on the 18.8-acre site on April 22.