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RAEM launches study on wood pellet market's impact on railroads

railroad_tracks418 (1)WAYNESBORO — The Rail Authority of East Mississippi (RAEM) has initiated a study to analyze the growing global wood pellet market and its financial impact on the construction of a new rail line connecting Waynesboro to Lucedale.

RAEM’s previous economic studies demonstrated forest products will be the primary user of the new rail line, and funding was provided by the Mississippi Legislature to further analyze the economic impact of the industry in relation to the rail project. The majority of pellets produced in the United States are exported to Europe, with the Southeast Region viewed as the prime location for pellet manufacturing.

“This study will help us determine the additional freight volume wood products will contribute to the railroad,” said Larry Gandy, RAEM executive director. “This volume is important to know to develop more thorough revenue projections and understand how our financing will be affected.”

RAEM engaged the services of Forest2Market to conduct the study. A North Carolina-based firm recognized as the industry leader in wood market analysis, Forest2Market works closely with pellet manufacturers to determine suitable locations for new pellet plants.

“Forest2Market has helped a range of public and private entities understand the global demand for pellets and how this demand will affect their businesses,” said Stan Parton, manager of Forest2Market’s bioenergy practice. “By quantifying wood pellet production opportunities for the Rail Authority of East Mississippi, this study will help identify new economic opportunities for pellet producers and for the expansion of a range of services, like construction of the new rail line, needed to support this new and growing industry.”

“With the high costs of transportation, the availability of rail service in the region will make a significant impact for the economy and benefit our forestry industry,” added Wayne County Supervisor Jerry Hutto. “The study will enable us to better understand our competitive position in the global forest products market.”

RAEM is currently conducting an environmental assessment in Wayne, Greene and George counties, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act before construction can begin.

RAEM is a multi-county partnership including Lauderdale, Clarke, Wayne, Greene, George and Jackson counties whose purpose is to develop the East Mississippi Intermodal Rail Corridor and create continuous rail service between the Gulf of Mexico and Meridian.


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