Enviva announces $75.7M expansion

Published 2:27 pm Saturday, December 22, 2018

Christmas came early to Western Tidewater on Friday morning. That’s when Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball announced in downtown that Enviva Partners LP, a global energy company that produces sustainable wood biomass, will be expanding its local operation by $75.7 million.

“We are thrilled that Enviva Partners, LP, a global producer and distributor of sustainable biomass, has chosen to expand and invest in Southampton County,” said Ball when he declared the news of the company’s plans. “The company is uniquely positioned to benefit from its close proximity to the Port of Chesapeake, where its products are exported to countries around the globe. Enviva has found a home in Southampton County, and we look forward to many more years of corporate partnership.”

In 2013, Enviva Pellets Southampton set up shop on Rose Valley Road, producing wood pellets, which are shipped worldwide. When the company began its operations here, there were approximately 70 full-time employees, and that has grown to 100-plus.

Amanda Jarratt, president and CEO of the Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc., later told The Tidewater News that company’s expansion will start in early 2019 and be completed in early 2020.

“We are anticipating 300 construction jobs, which will benefit the City of Franklin with meals tax, lodging tax and sales tax,” she said. “There will be some retraining of the current workforce. The additional wood purchases will be a huge win for our local forestry and logging community.”

At the start of the program, which took place in the Main Event, the Southampton County Board of Supervisors Chairman Dallas Jones compared the occasion to the upcoming holiday.

“I am so excited, I am about to burst! This is a wonderful day. Don’t tell me there’s no Santa Claus, because he came to Southampton County this day,” said Jones. “I’ve already got my present.”

Vice chairman Ronald West said the news is a blessing, and recognized Jarratt and staff for their work in helping to attract and maintain the company.

“We are favored, folks,” he added. “We’ve been blessed.”

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said in a separate statement from his office, “Enviva Partners LP plays a valuable role in the economic landscape of Southampton County and this multi-million-dollar investment will stimulate industry growth throughout the Commonwealth. By processing sustainably sourced pine at its expanded facility in Southampton, Enviva will open up new markets for Virginia’s forest products sector, one of the Commonwealth’s top private industries, and increase its own wood pellet production by a third. This project demonstrates the value of investing in our manufacturing sector, and we thank Enviva for its significant contribution.”

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the FSEDI to secure the project for Virginia, according to its online announcement. Northam approved a $400,000 performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Performance Program, an incentive that encourages capital investment by existing Virginia companies. Enviva is also eligible to receive Sales and Use tax exemptions on equipment associated with the expansion.

“I am pleased to have Enviva Partners, LP, one of the world’s largest producers of wood pellet, located in my 75th District in Southampton County,” said Del. Roslyn Tyler (D-75.) “Economic development announcements are positive and welcoming news to state and local elected officials as well as our residents. Enviva’s investment of $75.7 million dollars to expand their operations will boost usage of forest products, which will benefit the logging industry and have an enormous economic impact on local businesses.”

Thomas Meth, co-founder of Enviva and its executive vice president of sales and marketing, said he was pleased that the company can grow in Virginia. He reiterated that the company will be spending $75.7M to increase the wood pellet production to 750,000 metric tons per year.

There will also be an Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer, which can destroy any air pollutants.

Noting the concern about climate change, Meth stressed the importance of finding alternatives to fuel sources of coal, wind or solar power, such as the wood-burning pellets.

He concluded, “We’re most grateful for your support, and look forward, hopefully, to many more good things to come.”