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Council of State approves wood pellet facility at Port of Wilmington


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The Council of State has approved a lease agreement to let a wood pellet maker build a facility at the State Port of Wilmington. The North Carolina State Ports Authority Board of Directors approved the deal with Enviva Holdings, LP last week.

The state says the wood pellet export facility at the Port of Wilmington could bring an estimated $2 million annual investment and at least $1.25 million in annual revenue. If built, the facility would receive, store and load wood pellets for export to Europe, where they would be used as a renewable energy source.

"This is a great way to increase the state's global connection through our ports, supporting North Carolina businesses, expanding economic opportunities, enhancing port operations and bringing jobs to the Greater Wilmington area," Transportation Secretary Tony Tata said in a news release.

The estimates the facility could create approximately 70 new jobs at the port and support at least 80 indirect jobs in the logging and transportation industries.

Under the agreement, Enviva could build a facility that will consist of two storage domes, a rail car unloading station and a ship loader and conveyor system. Enviva would finance the construction — estimated at approximately $35 million — and would be responsible for operating it. The initial lease term is 21 years, with two additional 5-year renewal options.

Final design and construction of the facility would take approximately 18 months. The agreement calls for the facility to be operational by January 2015.

The Department of Transportation cites forest-industry experts at NC State University who report US production of wood pellets is expected to increase from 3 million tons just four short years ago, to nearly 10 million tons by 2015.

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