News | April 2018

Trying to keep up with all the latest news in the biomass industry can be a daunting task, however, with the help of Wood Bioenergy magazine and our ever-updating blog site—staying up-to-date has been made significantly easier.

For the latest in news, visit or blog site.

Price Wins Bid For Fulghum Fibres

The Price Companies of Monticello, Ark. submitted the highest bid in a bankruptcy court auction for the purchase of Fulghum Fibres, an affiliate company of Rentech. The Price Companies out-bid an affiliate of Scott Davis Chip Co., based in Alabama.

The Price Companies officially closed on the deal in mid-February.

Rentech, amid filing for bankruptcy, earlier reported that it had sold its Fulghum Fibres business to an affiliate of Scott Davis Chip Co. for $28 million. But on January 10, The Price Companies and its affiliate, Firehunt, Inc., filed an objection to the Sale Motion and delivered a competing bid for the Fulghum assets. The Price Companies, like Fulghum, is a chip mill operator and contractor.

At a hearing on January 17, after arguments from Price and other creditors, the Bankruptcy Court allowed an auction for the sale of Fulghum to proceed. After receiving several bids from Scott Davis and Price, it was determined that Price had submitted the “highest and best bid” for Fulghum.

Price agreed to acquire Fulghum and assume certain specified liabilities for a base purchase price of $33,750,000 (which includes the assumption or payoff by Price of approximately $20,000,000 of debt). Upon the closing of the sale, the Fulghum sellers were to terminate the earlier Fulghum purchase agreement with Scott Davis and pay the $840,000 break-up fee required under the terms of the agreement. The Fulghum sellers were to be reimbursed for the break-up fee by Price.

On February 2, 2018, the Bankruptcy Court entered an order authorizing the sale of Fulghum to Price.

Rentech purchased Fulghum Fibres in 2013 for $112 million, including 32 wood chip mills, six of which were in South America.

Immunity Is No Go For State Of Oregon

An Oregon district judge has refused to dismiss a 2016 lawsuit filed by counties with state forests within their borders that claimed state officials have refused to maximize timber revenues from lands that counties donated to the state years ago. Attorneys for the state had claimed “sovereign immunity” in the matter—a doctrine that county governments can’t sue the state government—and while the judge initially allowed it as a possible defense, his most recent ruling says that in this case, counties can sue the state to enforce their contract rights.

At issue are timber sale revenues from state lands that were initially donated to the state decades ago, along with accompanying legislation that the lands should be managed for the “greatest permanent value” and revenues shared with the counties. According to the suit, state forestry officials began reducing timber revenues in favor of recreational and environmental protection priorities 20 years ago via an internal policy change. As a result, the counties believe they have been shortchanged and are asking the state for more than $1 billion in revenues.

The judge’s ruling clears the way for the trial to begin, says counties’ attorney John DiLorenzo, adding that maybe the Oregon Dept. of Forestry will take the case seriously, claiming that until now the state had treated the suit with derision, believing it would be easily dismissed.

Drax Plans Conversion Of Fourth Biomass Unit

Drax says a UK Government response to the consultation on cost control for further biomass conversions under the Renewable Obligation scheme will enable Drax to convert a fourth burner unit to biomass.

The response proposes that, rather than imposing a cap on ROC (renewable obligation certificate) support for any future biomass unit conversions, a cap would be applied at the power station level across all ROC units. This would protect existing converted units and limit the amount of incremental ROCs attributable to additional unit conversions to 125,000 per annum.

Drax says the response enables it to optimize its power generation from biomass across its three current ROC units under the cap, while supporting the Government’s objective of controlling costs under the Renewable Obligation scheme.

Drax will now continue its work to deliver the low cost conversion of a fourth biomass unit, accelerating the removal of coal-fired generation from the UK electricity system.

Drax plans to complete the work on this unit as part of a major planned outage in the second half of 2018, before returning to service in late 2018. The capital cost is significantly below the level of previous conversions, re-purposing the existing co-firing facility on site to deliver biomass to the unit.

The unit will likely operate with lower availability than the three existing converted units, but the intention is for it to run at periods of higher demand, which are often those of higher carbon intensity, allowing optimization of ROC generation across three ROC accredited units.

Duke Energy Renews Contract With Craven

Duke Energy, Charlotte, NC, has renewed a long-term power purchase agreement with a 5 MW biomass facility in North Carolina, continuing the company’s pursuit to diversify its electricity mix with biomass and alternative energy.

Craven County Wood Energy (CCWE) in New Bern is a 24-hour-a-day baseload plant that supplies enough power annually to satisfy the energy needs of more than 30,000 homes for a year. The facility uses mainly wood waste and poultry (turkey) waste to generate electricity. Throughout its 25 years of operation, the facility has been upgraded to use more poultry waste—going from 10% to 25% currently. It has plans to go as high as 30%.

Duke Energy will buy 100% of the energy and associated renewable energy certificates (RECs) from the facility. A REC is a commodity equal to 1 mega­watt-hour of renewable generation.

Under North Carolina’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS), Duke Energy must eventually meet 0.21% of its overall power sales with energy generated by swine and poultry waste. North Carolina is the only state with a renewable energy carveout for swine and poultry waste.

CCWE has about 50 employees and also supports jobs in logging, trucking, welding, parts supply industries and many other local merchants in the area. Its use of waste wood lessens the amount of materials going to local landfills. It is an important economic contributor to the region.

Duke Energy is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. Its Electric Utilities and Infrastructure business unit serves approximately 7.5 million customers in six states in the Southeast and Midwest.

Mid-South Is Purchased By USNR

USNR has completed the acquisition of Mid-South Engineering Co., a leading consultant and provider of engineering services to the wood products industry in North America.

USNR President George Van Hoomissen comments, “Mid-South is a great addition to USNR because it brings into the USNR family a large group of experienced professionals who know a great deal about the many things, beyond just equipment, that go into the successful building and operation of wood processing facilities. This gives USNR much greater capacity to deliver large-scale turnkey solutions to our customers.”

USNR has promoted Jeff Stephens (formerly president of Mid-South) to Senior Vice President at USNR, with responsibility for leading USNR’s turnkey offerings worldwide. Stephens will oversee both USNR personnel and key resources drawn from the Mid-South organization.

“I am really looking forward to this challenge,” Stephens says. “USNR and Mid-South have worked together on projects for many years, and both companies have benefited from this strong relationship. It’s going to be exciting to see what we can do with our combined resources to deliver the high-quality solutions our customers have been seeking.”

Mid-South’s longtime vice president and CFO Marc Stewart has been appointed to replace Stephens as President of Mid-South Engineering. “Both Jeff and I have tremendous confidence in Marc’s ability to lead the Mid-South organization,” Van Hoomissen says. “Marc has an excellent understanding of the business and great working relationships with its employees and customers—he’ll do a fantastic job.”

Founded in 1969 in Hot Springs, Ark., Mid-South Engineering now employs 120 who work at the company’s facilities in Arkansas, North Carolina and Maine, as well as at client facilities throughout North America. The company provides a full range of engineering, project management, and construction coordination services primarily to clients who produce products such as lumber, plywood, LVL, OSB, MDF, paper and pellets.

USNR operates four large manufacturing plants in the U.S., Canada and Sweden, in addition to more than a dozen regional engineering, service and sales offices in North America and across Europe.

Pellet Fuels Institute Names Portz As ED

Pellet Fuels Institute has hired Tim Portz to serve as the organization’s executive director. Portz, based in Minneapolis, Minn., joins PFI with a wealth of industry knowledge from his previous role as a longtime executive editor in biomass industry trade magazines.

Pellet Fuels Institute is a North American trade association that represents a range of contributors to the pellet industry, including companies that manufacture wood pellets and pellet manufacturing equipment, or provide other products and services to the densified biomass industry at large.

Enviva Completes Greenwood Purchase

Enviva Holdings, LP, the world’s largest producer of industrial wood pellets, announced that it, through its previously announced joint venture, Enviva JV Development Company, LLC, has completed the acquisition of a wood pellet production plant in Greenwood, SC and related assets from The Navigator Company, S.A., a Portuguese paper and pulp company. This acquisition is the first investment by the new joint venture, which was recently created by Enviva to acquire, develop and construct wood pellet production plants and deep-water marine terminals in the Southeastern U.S. The Greenwood plant, which is strategically located in a deep natural resource basin, employs nearly 80 full-time employees. Enviva intends to make investments in the Greenwood plant to improve its operational efficiency and add additional emissions control equipment that the company expects will increase its production capacity to 600,000 metric tons of wood pellets per year by 2019, subject to receiving the necessary permits.

“Enviva is very excited to formally welcome the Greenwood team to the Enviva family,” says Royal Smith, Enviva’s Executive Vice President of Operations. “Together, we look forward to growing this facility in partnership with the Greenwood community and our sustainable supply chain that includes forest landowners, loggers, truckers and the mechanical, and other service providers essential to keeping a world-class manufacturing operation running smoothly.”

“The Greenwood plant is an ideal addition to our portfolio of manufacturing and export terminal facilities, and we are excited to formally welcome this team to the Enviva family,” says John Keppler, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Enviva. “This latest investment is a testament to the strength of the global biomass market and will ensure Enviva is well positioned to meet its long-term contracted demand from customers seeking renewable energy alternatives to coal in Europe and Asia.”

Enviva’s combined plant operations now include seven manufacturing sites in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi and Florida, with an eighth under construction in Richmond County, North Carolina. In total, these facilities will represent more than 4 million metric tons of wood pellet production capacity on an annual basis.

Enviva Will Work Around Port Fire

Enviva Partners reports that a fire commenced at its deep-water marine terminal in Chesapeake, Va. late on Tuesday, February 27. Enviva states that the fire was quickly controlled due to the efforts of onsite personnel and the Chesapeake terminal’s fire suppression and mitigation processes, with assistance from local fire departments and other first responders.

While the Chesapeake terminal is being returned to safe, full commercial operations, Enviva expects to utilize several storage alternatives to minimize the impact of the incident, including excess capacity at its deep-water marine terminal in Wilmington, NC and other temporary storage facilities. The fire may impact the timing and number of shipments in the first quarter of 2018 and Enviva expects to incur cost and liabilities associated with the event. 

However, due to Enviva’s portfolio of production plants and export terminals and the fulfillment flexibility in its off-take contracts and shipping schedule, Enviva does not expect the fire to impact its 2018 guidance earnings projections.

^ Top