Published 8:03 pm Tuesday, August 13, 2019

In the story titled “No new jobs from Enviva expansion?” published on Sunday, Aug. 11, it was reported that more than half of Enviva’s $75.7 million expansion in Southampton County was likely to be spent on pollution control. This was based on upfront and annual cost estimates prepared by consulting engineer Joe Sullivan for Enviva Southampton in 2013, multiplying the annual cost over a five-year period.

While Southampton County’s economic incentive grant, equivalent to a 50-percent reduction in machinery and tools taxes, is for a five-year period, the county’s performance agreement with Enviva actually specifies that the $75.7 million expansion is to be completed within 36 months (three years) from when it was signed in May 2019, assuming no unforeseen delays. When Sullivan’s 2013 cost estimates for three regenerative thermal oxidizers (RTOs) are applied over a three-year period rather than five, the total cost would be $14,166,183, or roughly 18.7 percent of the proposed $75.7 million expansion. Factoring in a fourth RTO with a cost of $5,638,380 and a $10,530,654 cost for a second wet electrostatic precipitator (one of the other pollution controls Enviva will be required to install as part of its expansion), this would bring the total pollution control component of the three-year investment at Southampton to $30,335,217, which would be about 40 percent of the $75.7 million total investment. This is based on what Enviva reported as the upfront and annual costs of a wet ESP for a plant in Hamlet, North Carolina in 2014, with the annual costs multiplied over three years.

According to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Enviva Southampton will also be required to install two wet scrubbers as part of its expansion. The Tidewater News has no cost estimates for wet scrubbers, and so the amount of the $75.7 million devoted to pollution control may still be close to 50 percent. DEQ representatives have confirmed that Enviva would be required to add pollution controls whether or not the plant was expanding, and, as was reported on Sunday, have cast doubt on whether Enviva will follow through with its plans to install a second wood dryer and/or actually increase production to 781 tons per year.