Morten Neraas, right, president and CEO of Green Circle Bio Energy Inc., shakes hands with George County Board of Supervisors President Kelly Wright on June 27, 2013.
Morten Neraas, right, president and CEO of Green Circle Bio Energy Inc., shakes hands with George County Board of Supervisors President Kelly Wright on June 27, 2013.

Green Circle Bio Energy Locating Wood Pellet Manufacturing Operations in George County, Miss.

June 27, 2013

GEORGE COUNTY, Miss.—Officials from Green Circle Bio Energy have announced the company is locating an energy wood pellet manufacturing facility in the George County Industrial Park. The project represents a company investment of $115 million and will create 126 jobs with the potential of up to 141. The majority of the project’s jobs will be at the George County facility with the remainder being at the Port of Pascagoula. Additional temporary jobs will also be created during plant construction.

The facility is expected to be operational by spring 2015 and will produce wood pellets for shipment from the Port of Pascagoula to European markets to be sold to electric generating facilities as a renewable alternative to coal. Initially, the plant will have the capacity to produce 500,000 tons of wood pellets per year.

“Green Circle’s decision to locate these operations in George County is great news for the entire state, and I am proud to welcome the company as the newest member of Mississippi’s business community,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “I appreciate the Green Circle team for placing their confidence in our supportive business climate, investing in our state and creating these job opportunities for the residents of south Mississippi. I wish the company many years of success in Lucedale.”

“We are looking forward to being a part of George County and its future economic growth. The Industrial Park is the ideal location for our expansion. It’s inside a large wood basket area, and it’s close to the Port of Pascagoula, which will export the wood pellets,” said Morten Neraas, CEO of Green Circle Bio Energy. “Our relationships with the Board of Supervisors and the Port of Pascagoula led us to George County.”

The Mississippi Development Authority provided assistance in support of the project for infrastructure needs at the project site. George County provided assistance for the project, as well.

“Mississippi has an abundance of natural resources that attract companies such as Green Circle Bio Energy to the state, and MDA is proud to welcome this great company to George County,” said MDA Executive Director Brent Christensen. “We are grateful to the George County Board of Supervisors, the City of Lucedale, the Southern Planning and Development District and our utility partners who worked so diligently to bring Green Circle to Mississippi.”

The large pellet mill planned for the George County Industrial Park will produce up to 500,000 tons of pellets per year, company leaders said during a meeting with George County supervisors this afternoon.

That’s equivalent to about 50 football fields, filled two stories high with wood pellets each year.

Groundbreaking is tentatively scheduled for fall, and the facility is expected to be operational by spring 2015.

County leaders said it will create 126 new full-time jobs in George County and others at the Port of Pascagoula in Jackson County.

Through a seven-year lease-purchase agreement with George County, Green Circle will purchase 118 acres for the $1.225 million site, which sits just north of American Tank & Vessel on Evanston Road.

During the reading of the resolution, board attorney Bob Shepard noted the county has been working on the deal for more than a year.

“This is the type of industrial development we want for George County’s Industrial Park,” board President Kelly Wright added. “Green Circle has been producing and selling pellets for eight years and is a global leader in this emerging energy market.”

The project will both increase the local tax base and possibly help attract other industry in the future, leaders said.

Timber for the pellets — a mix of hard woods and pine — will come from within a 70-mile radius of the plant, said Morten Neraas, president and CEO of Green Circle.

“This is truly a local operation because of that,” he said.

The company has been looking for the perfect spot in Mississippi since 2009, he said, and ultimately chose George County because it is in the wood basket, has access to a major port and has a business-friendly climate.

Offtake agreements are being negotiated and should be ready by early fall, he said, and “the United Kingdom is kind of what we are focused on in the early stages.”

The process for making the pellets is rather clean, Neraas said, and there is little waste created in the process.

“It’s a 100 percent natural process,” he said, as the wood is trucked in already chipped, and it is dried, ground into a fine sawdust and pressed into pellets on site.

Even tree bark can be used to fire the dryers used in the process, he said.

The wood pellets will be shipped overseas from the Port of Pascagoula to European utilities, which mix the pellets with coal to reduce carbon emissions.

By 2020, European power plants must use at least 20 percent of renewable energy in their fuel mix, he said, so demand is only expected to grow.

Headquartered in Cottondale, Fla., Green Circle Bio Energy produces biomass-based renewable energy. The company operates in an international market for carbon neutral energy. The company’s wood pellets are grown in sustainable forests in the Southeastern U.S.

Green Circle is wholly owned by the JCE Group, a privately owned international investment company headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden.

To learn more, please visit /LLj