Port asks county to borrow for wood pellet facility

PASCAGOULA — The Port of Pascagoula is asking Jackson County to borrow up to $24 million for wood pellet exporting facility.

The Port of Pascagoula is preparing a Bayou Casotte berth for a specialized wood pellet exporting facility. The export facility will have silos, an unloading facility for trucks and rail cars and a conveyor delivery system to the wharf.

The Mississippi Press reports that the board of supervisors may consider the request when it meets Nov. 18.

Port director Mark McAndrews said yesterday’s action by the port is just the first step in the process to issue the bonds.

There will be weeks of public notice and then a hearing — likely in December — before the bonds could be issued, he said.

Florida-based Green Circle Bio Energy Inc., which plans to build a $115 million wood pellet plant in George County, will use the site to export up to 500,000 tons of pellets per year to European utility companies.

McAndrews said the exporting facility is expected to cost about $30 million, with $15 million of that coming from port bonds. The state has put up $10 million for the project and the terminal operator will invest $5 million.

Another $14 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation will be used for intermodal improvements.

McAndrews said the port is asking for $24 million to give the project a cushion in case additional modifications to the wharf are needed.

“We really haven’t completed the engineering design yet, so there could be some costs above the $15 million,” he said, noting the $24 million max is “on the real high side.”

The port isn’t going to issue any more bonds than it needs, he said.

The facility would be operational by early 2016.

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