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Renewable energy firm to site pellet plant in Pine Belt

LUCEDALE — Gulf Coast Renewable Energy will locate a $25-million wood pellet plant in the industrial park in George County.

Company officials met with the board of supervisors to request help with construction of an access road to the site on 40 acres just outside the Lucedale city limits.

The project will create about 30 new jobs, said company vice president for engineering Gary Ogle.

It will produce about 160,000 metric tons of pellets per year, Ogle said, and the company also plans to double production within the next 3 years.

Wood pellets are shipped overseas to European utilities plants to use as biomass energy that complies with their stricter sustainability guidelines. The pellets are made from a mix of soft and hard woods.

Ken Flanagan, the county’s economic development and communication director, said offtake agreements are in place, mostly with utility companies in the United Kingdom.

The plant should be producing pellets by the fourth quarter of 2014, Ogle said, and will take up to 14 months for construction.

“The timeline’s getting tight,” he told supervisors.

The company is buying the land from Mississippi Export Railroad. The company will tie into the existing railroad spur, and about 3 railroad cars of pellets will be sent to the port in Theodore, Ala., every 2 to 3 days, Flanagan said.

Flanagan said the facility will be a good fit for George County.

“It’s an emerging energy business, not a smoke stack driven business,” he said. “And it’s a good step in showing what our industrial park has to offer, including highway access, a rail spur and a workforce that understands hard work.”

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