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Highland Pellets Celebrates New Pine Bluff Plant

2 min read

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday helped Highland Pellets LLC celebrate its new 600,000 metric ton per year wood pellet facility in Pine Bluff.

The $229 million plant was first announced in August 2014. It aims to create 68 jobs, up from the 35 it originally touted, and 1,000 indirect jobs in and around Jefferson County.

“This plant began with a simple economic goal, but has evolved into not just producing sustainable fuel, but producing sustainable outcomes for our employees, our community and our environment,” Tom Reilley, chairman and co-founder of Highland Pellets, said in a news release. “Our goal is to show our fellow citizens that respecting people is good business. Creating a stable platform around not just financial capital, but social capital like trusted relationships, shared values of compassion, community outreach, education and economic development yields demonstrable returns.”

The privately held company will produce wood pellets, a sustainably sourced feedstock for use by European industrial utilities to lower carbon footprint and provide sustainable base load power. 

Demand led to a doubling of U.S. exports of the pellets, from 1.6 million tons in 2012 to 3.2 million tons in 2013.

“Highland Pellets’ leadership is passionate about this new facility and the impact it will have on Jefferson County’s economy,” Hutchinson said. “They are determined to have a lasting effect not only on their employees, but also on the entire community. This is a great example of a company and community working together to create new opportunities and an improved quality of life for citizens.”

In July 2014, another wood pellet company, Zilkha Biomass Energy LLC of Houston, announced it would build a $90 million facility in Monticello, creating 52 jobs.

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