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State NewsEnviva wood pellet plant to bring $250 million investment...

Enviva wood pellet plant to bring $250 million investment to South Mississippi

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Industrial wood pellet manufacturer, Enviva, announced plans Tuesday to open a new production plant in Bond as the company’s fourth Mississippi location. 

The company says it will have about 100 local workers in the Stone County plant and is investing $250 million in the project. 

Enviva makes wood pellets that are shipped all over the world and burned to produce power as an alternative to fossil fuels. 

“Enviva has worked closely with state and local officials, delivering new investments, positive economic impact and strong support for the local communities,” John Keppler, the company’s CEO, said in a statement. “Our new plant in Bond is an integral part of Enviva’s growth strategy, which includes doubling production capacity over the next five years.” 

The Bond plant is expected to open in 2024. Construction is scheduled to begin next year.

Enviva has existing manufacturing plants in Armory and Lucedale and a marine terminal at the Port of Pascagoula. 

The Mississippi Development Authority is providing the company $4 million in grants for site development and infrastructure. The new plant is also certified under the state’s Advantage Jobs Rebate program, which gives companies yearly tax breaks based on the number of jobs they provide with higher-than-average salaries. 

Stone County’s economic development office said it is still negotiating the terms of the incentive package used to attract the Maryland company to the new site.

Enviva says plant jobs, which range from equipment workers and supervisors to mechanics and electricians, will be paid different rates. The company declined to specify its wages but said they’ll be “competitive in the market.”

“Stone County was founded on the timber industry more than a hundred years ago,” Stone County Board of Supervisors President Lance Pearson said in a statement. “ With the announcement of Enviva, we have an opportunity to produce a record number of new jobs because of the plentiful resources in Stone County.” 

Enviva says it will source low-value wood within 75 miles of the facility from privately owned forests. It operates 10 wood pellet plants across the Southeast and plans to produce 13 million metric tons of the pellets annually within the next five years. 

The new Mississippi site is off Highway 49. It was selected in collaboration with Gov. Tate Reeves, the state development authority and local officials.

Wood pellet plants have been increasingly opening in the South as means to support growing demands out of Europe for renewable energy. While the companies that make the pellets describe themselves as a clean energy source, critics say production can lead to air pollution and deforestation. 

Last year, one of Enviva competitors in Mississippi – Drax Biomass – was fined $2.5 million for its rate of air pollution emissions . Residents near Enviva facilities in other states have complained about air quality and constant noise, Scalawag, Southerly and Environmental Health News reported in 2020 .

Enviva says the new plant will have “industry-leading emission controls” and will take measures to buffer the noisiest parts of the milling process. 

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