Allendale, SC – The project entailed the development of two identical 21 MW biomass generation facilities used to convert wood pulp and debris into electricity for use throughout South Carolina. Southeast Renewable Energy, LLC (“SRE”) owned the project; SRE transfered its current 100 percent ownership of the two plants to enXco Development Corporation (“enXco”).
Both facilities began using biomass from logging residues, timber thinings, and urban wood waste as its primary fuel source supplied from an estimated 40 mile radius at each site. Estimates indicated that each facility would require more than 200,000 tons of biomass per year. The biomass was converted to electricity and 100 percent of this electrical power output was sold to Santee Cooper (“Santee”), South Carolina’s state owned electric facility, through a 30-year Power Purchase Agreement (“PPA”) that included an all-encompassing fuel cost pass-through.
At onset of the project, according to the South Carolina Forestry Commission (“SCFC”), forestry was South Carolina’s number one manufacturing industry, employing approximately 90,264 people with a payroll exceeding $4.1 billion. Studies provided by Forest2Market, a data warehouse entity for the forestry industry, showed an economic downturn and housing issues in the previous four years prior to the project. South Carolina had lost between 10,001 and 22,000 jobs in the forestry industry.
South Carolina’s 13.1 million acres of forest land, accounted for approximately 68 percent of the state’s total land area. More than 88 percent of these forests were privately owned and 12 percent controlled by public agencies. In Allendale County, 181,143 acres, or 65 percent of the total land area was forest land. The stumpage timber value in this county was approximately $9.8 million, in Dorchester County 262 million, 262,673 acres, or 73 percent of the county’s total land area was forest land. The stumpage timber value in the county was more than $7.252 million.
RDP’s Community Investment Program
As part of RDP’s Community Investment Program, Rural Development Partners and Pinelands Southwest Renewable Energy awarded a $300,000 matching funds grant to spur workforce development initiatives in the region. Funding increased access to an industrial maintenance course offered by Denmark Technical College, boosting qualified skilled workers for high demand local industry jobs. The college partnered with two local school districts to make the program available to younger individuals; students were able to complete approximately half of the industrial training course in a semester. The high school portion of the program was funded by a grant from the state lottery. The course was also open to adults through Denmark Technical College.