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Biofuel plant on track

Investment expected to create 20 new jobs

Posted: November 23, 2010 3:15 p.m.
Updated: November 24, 2010 5:00 a.m.

Kershaw County Council was expected to give final approval Tuesday night to an option for Southeast Renewable Energy LLC (SRE) to buy 30 acres at the county landfill site for the construction of a $50 million wood waste-burning energy plant to produce biomass fuel for Santee Cooper.

The plant is expected to generate 20 new jobs during the next five years, according to officials with Kershaw County, the S.C. Department of Commerce and the Central SC Alliance.

A 30-year purchase power agreement was approved in September by the Santee Cooper Board of Directors with Southeast Renewable Energy (SRE) for the production of 45 megawatts (MWs) of biomass-fueled energy. The Kershaw County plant will contribute 15 MWs toward that total. The company also has plans for similar plants in Dorchester and Allendale counties.

Biomass refers to plant mass -- such as timber residue -- harvestable for conversion to green fuel.

SRE President and CEO Raine Cotton said his company is “working diligently to get the last few steps of the project worked out; including permitting, that will allow the project to begin construction in early 2011.”

The plant, scheduled to be completed in late 2012, is also expected to create indirect jobs in the logging, trucking and forest product industries. The company will begin requesting applications for the positions in early 2012.

“Kershaw County is pleased to welcome Southeast Renewable Energy to our corporate community.  The company will join an already strong local timber industry in Kershaw County and should set the stage for future energy companies to locate in our area,” said Max Ford, chairman of Kershaw County Council.

South Carolina continues to see an increasing number of opportunities in both the energy and forestry sectors of the economy, said Secretary of Commerce Joe Taylor, and SRE’s investments utilize the state’s unique skills and resources in these sectors.

“By fostering a business-friendly climate and focusing on building a skilled workforce, South Carolina is well positioned to attract new investments from companies like Southeastern Renewable Energy and this in turn means job opportunities for workers in our state,” Taylor said. “We appreciate Southeastern Renewable Energy’s investment and look forward to its success in the state.”

Central SC Alliance Chairman Jim Apple said central South Carolina has emerged as the “Clean Energy Region” with a steady flow of energy related projects.

“This is due in part to the cluster that has developed around the core competencies that exists with our workforce in the sector. We congratulate Southeast Renewable Energy on this announcements and what they are doing to keep our environment clean and green,” said Apple.

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