Ports Authority approves wood pellet facility expected to bring jobs

MOREHEAD CITY, CARTERET COUNTY - The North Carolina State Ports Authority has approved the construction of a new wood pellet export facility in Morehead City, a move that is expected to bring substantial revenue and jobs.

The State Ports Authority Board of Directors agreed Thursday to allow WoodFuels, LLC to finance and build a $25 million export facility at the Morehead City Port. The facility would receive, store and load wood pellets for export to Europe, where they would be used as a renewable energy source.

Under the 20-year agreement, the facility would receive its first pellets for shipment in late 2014, the State Ports Authority stated. After the initial operational year, revenue will range between $1.2 million and $2 million annually.

On average, the deal would result in $840,000 in operating revenue each year that would be used to reinvest into the Morehead City Port, according to the State Ports Authority. It is also expected to support at least 150 direct and indirect jobs between the port and other North Carolina locations.

The deal will be presented to the Council of State for final approval in October.

U.S. production of wood pellets is expected to increase from 3 million tons four years ago to nearly 10 million tons by 2015, according to N.C. State University.

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