Mississippi towards even more pellets new plants and large port investments

New $40 million George County wood pellet plant will double production capacity and the Mississippi legislature has earmarked $10 million toward wood pellet export infrastructure that will be built at the Port of Pascagoula.

Gulf Coast Renewable Energy announced an agreement to double the capacity of its planned wood pellet plant in George County and locate an additional facility in Copiah County, a total initial investment of $80 million.

Each facility will have a production capacity of 320,000 metric tons of wood pellets manufactured annually, generating 40 new direct jobs and 288 new indirect jobs at each facility. Therefore, combined production capacity of the two new facilities will be 640,000 metric tons, creating a total of 80 new direct jobs and 576 new indirect jobs.

The George County wood pellet plant will be located in Lucedale on a 40-acre site in the county’s industrial park and was originally designed with a capacity of 160,000 metric tons and possible future expansion, said David Dunham, GCRE president and CEO. However, the company has decided to expand the design now to accomodate their overseas customers.

“It’s a rapidly growing industry worldwide,” Dunham said.

” The company is currently in the designing and permitting process, and construction is expected to begin in August or September of this year. Dunham said.

Production will kick off around September 2014, a couple months before their first delivery is due overseas. GCRE chose the locations for its new facilities based on the efficient railroad service availability and forest feedstock.

George County community development director Ken Flanagan described the South Mississippi area as a substantial “wood basket” for its high availability of soft wood such as pine trees.

“We’re looking forward to working with both counties and designing facilities of the right size that support feedstock without having a great impact on the community’s resources,” Dunham said.

It has also been announced that the Mississippi legislature has earmarked $10 million toward wood pellet export infrastructure that will be built at the Port of Pascagoula.

Biomass magazine reports that Port Director Mark McAndrews said plans for the facility have been in the works for quite some time. It will look similar to a grain elevator, and consist of silos, a truck unloading facility, rail cars and a conveyor delivery system to the wharf.

The $10 million won’t even cover half of cost, which will be up to $30 million, but McAndrews said the port and private sector terminal operators will also be investing in the project. The company that will primarily use the port facility hasn’t yet been named, but is supposed to be making an announcement within the next few weeks.