The long wait is over in Selma, Alabama. Zilkha Biomass Energy has secured the financing it needs to renovate the former Dixie Pellets plant it purchased when the company went bankrupt in 2010. Zilkha will produce Black Pellets that, unlike traditional wood pellets, are immune to water damage. Like coal, the waterproof pellets can be stored outdoors and transported in the open.
Zilkha received both federal and state New Market Tax Credits totaling $18.8 million. Alabama enacted its tax credit in 2012 to offer capital to projects that would generate jobs in economically-depressed areas of the state.
The plant is expected to begin operations in 2014 and produce 275,000 tons per year. In addition to 55 permanent positions, the project is expected to create 120 supporting jobs and bring an additional 380 construction jobs to the area.
A wood pellet export facility planned for the North Carolina Port of Morehead City has been downsized. The initial plan anticipated shipping up to 441,000 tons of wood pellets per year, increasing rail traffic by 165 to 335 cars per week and building up to four storage domes. The project is now anticipated to increase railcars to the port by 60 per week, and only a single storage dome with a capacity of approximately 41,000 tons is planned for construction.
State Ports Authority CEO Jeff Miles chalked the change in scale up to a lack of understanding about the size of market when the project plans were initially presented in October 2012. “Since late January, early February, we’ve gotten a little bit closer into that and started to challenge some of the market assumptions and what we’re finding is that there is a good opportunity there on a much smaller scale than what was originally conceived,” Miles said.
Plans also include the construction of new rail-unloading facilities and conveyor systems. International WoodFuels’ wood pellet plant in Sims is expected to ship its products from the port. The plant will come online in 2014 and have an annual capacity of 314,000 tons.
Cate Street Capital’s 75-MW Burgess BioPower biomass plant in Berlin, New Hampshire has entered the testing and commissioning phase. Wood deliveries needed for additional testing will begin in this month, and the first fire of the boiler on auxiliary fuel will also take place in August or September. The facility is expected to come on-line by year end and use approximately 750,000 tons of wood per year.
The town of Springfield, Vermont has entered into a memorandum of understanding for a proposed wood biomass plant named the North Springfield Sustainable Energy Project. The project is a dual venture between Winstanley Enterprises LLC, a Concord, Massachusetts real estate development and investment company and Weston Solutions Inc., a sustainability services company out of West Chester, Pennsylvania. The deal requires plant developers pay $3 million to build an access road for the plant that, once operational, is expected to produce 25-35 MW of power from clean in-woods fuel chips. It is not yet known when facility construction will begin.
Hinterland LLC has announced plans to build a wood-based biomass fuel manufacturing facility in the Vidalia (Louisiana) Industrial Park. The company is expected to finalize its lease next month with construction on the $100 million facility set to begin in 2016. The plant would employ approximately 50 full-time workers and create 120 indirect jobs. Plant capacity is unknown, but city officials have indicated the facility will receive upwards of 100 truckloads of logs per day.
Both KiOR and INEOS Bio have produced biofuel using wood as a feedstock this summer. More information about those projects is available in the blog post EPA Issues Final 2013 Renewable Fuel Standards as Cellulosic Biofuel Production Gets Underway.