Enviva Inc. held a groundbreaking ceremony for its forthcoming Epes plant under construction in Sumter County, Ala.
Enviva has been active in Sumter County since its initial assessment of the site in 2018. In 2020, Enviva acquired over 300 acres in the Epes Industrial Park, located next to the Tombigbee River in Sumter County, to build its largest wood pellet production plant. In July 2022, the company began construction of its fully contracted Epes plant, which will have a nameplate capacity of 1.1 million metric tons per year and is expected to be in service by mid-2024, with production fully ramped by 2025.
“The fact that the world’s largest wood pellet producer is building its largest production facility to date here, in Sweet Home Alabama, is yet another testament to our nation-leading business climate and world-class workforce,” said Alabama Governor Kay Ivey. “Enviva’s significant commitment at the Port of Epes will undoubtedly breathe life into a community and region eager for new, long-term opportunities. It truly is an exciting day for West Alabama, and I sincerely appreciate Enviva’s decision to plant roots here in our great state.”
When assessing and developing the project, Enviva chose to repurpose a former business site and construct a brand-new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility to jumpstart economic growth and bring employment opportunities back to the community it now calls home. Once operational, the Epes plant is expected to support approximately 100 direct jobs and 250 indirect jobs, including in adjacent industries such as logging, trucking, and shipping. Enviva plans to invest, on average, $375 million for each newly constructed plant going forward, including the Epes plant. Enviva’s Epes plant will be one of the largest taxpayers in the county, resulting in economic benefits to the community with funding for programs like road maintenance and schools, as well as safety and emergency services.
“I am proud to see more economic development and job creation in Sumter County!” said Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell. “It is imperative for the prosperity of Alabama that we continue to deliver more resources and opportunities directly to the people that need them most. I am thrilled to see Enviva is doing just that by providing even more jobs to our rural communities through this expansion.”
The rich fibre basket and supply in Alabama, along with favourable transport logistics and a great local workforce, are some of the key factors which initially made the project sustainable and attractive for Enviva. As part of its unwavering commitment to sustainability, Enviva will source fibre at the new plant by following the robust set of practices and principles that are employed successfully at Enviva’s other plants. The facility will sustainably and responsibly source wood from areas within approximately 75 miles of the plant.
“It is an honour to be here in Sumter County with Governor Ivey and local officials to celebrate this momentous occasion of breaking ground on a fully contracted, state-of-the-art wood pellet production facility in West Alabama,” said Thomas Meth, president and CEO of Enviva. “We are excited to grow with Alabama as we remain committed to being a long-term source of green jobs and green investment across the state. We have been humbled by the strong support we have received from the local community over the last few years, and we look forward to formally being a part of the community and to being a good neighbour for many years to come.”
Pellets produced at the Epes plant will be exported to international markets, mainly in Europe and Asia, and will help to fill international demand for secure sources of renewable energy, which help to defossilize power and heat generation, as well as energy-intensive industries such as steel, cement, and lime, as well as sustainable aviation fuels.
During the ceremony, Enviva also recognized the following organizations for their invaluable contribution in making the project possible and for in turn bringing economic development to Sumter County: MuniStrategies, LLC, PB Community Impact Fund, LLC, UB Community Development, LLC, National Impact Fund, LLC, Capital One – National Association, and United Bank.
In addition, the Epes plant has been designed using learnings from the company’s existing 10 plants to deliver an improved and modernized model known as the EVA-1100. The patent pending blueprint is being used as the standardized plant design for its future 1.1 million metric ton production capacity plants, to include Epes.
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