Enviva recommits to $180 million wood pellet plant in Sumter County

Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 6:26 PM CST
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SUMTER COUNTY, Ala. (WTOK) - Enviva is a large producer of sustainable and renewable energy. It announced in 2019 its plans to bring a wood pellet plant to Sumter County but then the pandemic happened. Now production is set to start in the first half of 2022 and the company says it will be the largest wood pellet plant in the country.

The $180 million facility will be located at the Port of Epes Industrial Park. The construction phase of this project is expected to employ up to 400 people.

“During that construction phase, we’ll be bringing 300 to 400 construction jobs to the area. Once the plant is completed, which it has got about a 12 to 15 month construction period, we’ll provide 95 to 100 full-time jobs here in Sumter County,” said Rick Frederick, Enviva Biomass community relations manager, in an interview Friday with News 11.

The project is expected to generate an estimated 180 additional jobs in logging, transportation and local services in the region.

“The economic impact is going to be huge. Not only will we be hiring 95 to 100 employees, but we will also create about 2 jobs for every job inside our fence. So you’re looking at around 250-300 jobs that will be created by this plant. Also we’ll be buying local timber, wood, from local landowners, forestry groups to supply the plant,” said Frederick.

The expected Sumter County facility would initially produce 700,000 metric tons of pellets annually, though production could eventually be increased to 1.15 million tons per year.

“Typically, our plants take about 12 to 15 months to complete. We’re looking at late 2023 to complete the plant and begin producing wood pellets. Those pellets again would be shipped overseas to provide heat and electricity, and replace coal, reduce their carbon footprint and fight climate change around the world,” said Frederick.

Sumter County leaders said they’re looking forward to working with Enviva to create jobs and improve the quality of life in West Alabama.

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