The West Virginia Economic Development Authority approved a resolution that will allow American Clean Energy to issue up to $100 million in tax-free bonds for the facility’s construction.
The plant will use waste material from wood products to create electricity. Tom Loehr, president of American Clean Energy, told the Daily News.
What is used is the wood waste that is usually left on the forest floor after the trees have been harvested, Loehr said. That material is chipped into 2-inch pieces, which is then burned to make electricity.
The company hopes to begin construction in the summer of 2010 — July is the targeted month. That construction will create 50 jobs. When the plant is in full production, it will employ 40 people, Loehr said. He hopes the facility will be producing electricity in the summer of 2011.
Loehr said his decision to bring the project to Mingo County was based on two major factors the natural resources and the people.
The location is near the fuel supply, he said. There is a lot of wood industry near there. And the work done by the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority (MCRA) has really helped. We have had excellent cooperation from them. That has really encouraged us to locate there.
Mike Whitt, director of the MCRA, said he is glad the county is diversifying its industry.
People think we [MCRA] just work on coal projects, Whitt said. But, if you look, most of the projects we have done are non-coal projects. We have a wood products plant, a fish hatchery and a golf course. The sites were created by coal mining, but they are not mining businesses.
Whitt went on to say the alternative or green energy is something local businesses are embracing.
At the Mohawk Flooring Plant, they use the sawdust they produce, they burn it and turn it into electricity, Whitt said.
He added the ACE Plant is the first of what he hopes will be several green energy facilities in the County.
We have been working on some alternative energy projects that will use wood residue and waste. Whitt said. We have been trying to see if we had enough material to sustain a project like this, and now we do.
Loehr said 31 states, including West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Virginia have requirements that a certain percentage of their electricity come from renewable sources, such as the wood plant. He said the plant would have the option to sell energy to 11 states.
The new facility will produce 28 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 28,000 homes, Loehr said.
American Electric Power submitted a request this year to buy 1,000 megawatts of renewable electricity, and Loehr wants his company to supply 28 megawatts of that to the power company.
He said renewable energy is the energy of the future, and he wants that energy to be part of the future of West Virginia.
“Renewable energy is more valuable today than it’s ever been, he said. “We’re looking at what’s going to happen over the next 20 years, not the next month or two,”