NC Council of State approves wood-pellet facility for Wilmington port

bsiceloff@newsobserver.comJune 4, 2013 

— A proposed lease approved Tuesday will allow construction of a $35 million wood-pellet storage and shipping facility at the state port in Wilmington.

Maryland-based Enviva Holdings is expected to build and operate the biomass fuel export facility to ship as much as 1 million metric tons of pellets a year from forests in southeastern North Carolina, starting in January 2015.

The Council of State authorized the State Ports Authority to sign the 21-year lease with Enviva. The company would build two storage domes, a rail car unloading station and a ship loader and conveyor system at the Wilmington port.

“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.

Enviva has two pellet mills in northeastern North Carolina, with a combined yearly capacity of 865,000 metric tons shipped to European markets through the company’s export terminal at Chesapeake, Va. Once the lease is signed, Enviva is expected to open two or three new mills that would start shipping pellets in rail cars to the Wilmington port.

Enviva would not discuss its plans in detail but expressed enthusiasm for the proposed lease.

“The Wilmington facility would improve Enviva’s ability to export sustainably harvested and manufactured solid biomass fuels that create great jobs and direct investment in rural communities while helping our utility customers significantly reduce their emissions of CO2 and other pollutants,” John Keppler, Enviva’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

The ports authority also is developing an export deal with another company, International WoodFuels, that would ship pellets from the Morehead City port.

Siceloff: 919-829-4527 or blogs.newsobserver.com/crosstown or twitter.com/Road_Worrier

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