NC ports denied funds for wood pellet infrastructure
October 24, 2012
By The StarNews
October 24, 2012, Raleigh, NC –The N.C. Railroad Co. Board of Directors on Thursday voted not to give $70 million over 10 years to help the N.C. State Ports Authority secure financing to construct wood pellet-handling facilities at the ports of Wilmington and Morehead City.
According to The StarNews , Ports Authority and state commerce officials recently asked the state-owned Railroad Co. for the cash to help secure financing for facilities at the two ports, which would receive, store and transfer wood pellets to ships for transport to Europe, where they would be used by utility companies as fuel in energy production.
The estimated cost of the two facilities is $120 million, financed over 20 years.
Combined, ports officials have said, the two pellet facilities would be the most expensive infrastructure project ever at the ports. State officials have said they hoped the Morehead City facility would be shipping wood pellets to Europe by early 2014, with the Wilmington facility not far behind.
But in a unanimous vote Thursday, the Railroad Co. board turned down the Ports Authority’s request for $7 million a year. It cited in part questions about whether railroad dividends could be used for that purpose under state law, which requires that Railroad Co. dividends pay for railroad capital improvements.
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