Phoenix Renewable Energy Breaks Ground for Its New Facility in Camden

Camden Mayor Chris Claybaker said Phoenix Renewable Energy is the first big real opportunity the city has had in the last ten years.

Camden Mayor Chris Claybaker said Phoenix Renewable Energy is the first big real opportunity the city has had in the last ten years.

Mike Ross said Phoenix will provide a domestic fuel source for electric plants and an environmentally friendly alternative to coal.

Mike Ross said Phoenix will provide a domestic fuel source for electric plants and an environmentally friendly alternative to coal.

Over four hundred people attended the event, including U.S. Senator Mark Pryor, Congressman Mike Ross, Ecological Conservation Organization, Audubon Arkansas, Repower America, and Sierra Club.

Over four hundred people attended the event, including U.S. Senator Mark Pryor, Congressman Mike Ross, Ecological Conservation Organization, Audubon Arkansas, Repower America, and Sierra Club.

Senator Pryor addressed the audience.

Senator Pryor addressed the audience.

Senator Pryor talked about the need for more clean energy jobs in Arkansas.

Senator Pryor talked about the need for more clean energy jobs in Arkansas.

Sam Anderson, CEO, Phoenix Renewable Energy, said that Europe's cap and trade made his business possible, and that the business community should be more positive about cap and trade.

Sam Anderson, CEO, Phoenix Renewable Energy, said that Europe's cap and trade made his business possible, and that the business community should be more positive about cap and trade.

Anderson credited the Obama administration's stimulus plan for making his business a practical idea.

Anderson credited the Obama administration's stimulus plan for making his business a practical idea.

The audience included several people with clean energy T-shirts and green jobs hard hats.

The audience included several people with clean energy T-shirts and green jobs hard hats.

Green shovels to break the ground for Phoenix's new carbon-neutral facility.

Green shovels to break the ground for Phoenix's new carbon-neutral facility.

Anderson, Pryor, Ross, Claybaker, and other officials break the ground.

Anderson, Pryor, Ross, Claybaker, and other officials break the ground.

The new facility will occupy the former site of International Paper plant that closed almost a decade ago.

The new facility will occupy the former site of International Paper plant that closed almost a decade ago.

Bill Saunders, a Sierra Club member, shakes hands with Sam Anderson, CEO, Phoenix Renewable Energy.

Bill Saunders, a Sierra Club member, shakes hands with Sam Anderson, CEO, Phoenix Renewable Energy.

Ken Smith, Executive Director, Audubon Arkansas, shakes hands with a clean energy supporter.

Ken Smith, Executive Director, Audubon Arkansas, shakes hands with a clean energy supporter.

The plant is expected to open within 16 to 20 months. It will employ up to 60 people and creat 450 jobs in timber, transportation, and other industries that would serve the plant.

The plant is expected to open within 16 to 20 months. It will employ up to 60 people and creat 450 jobs in timber, transportation, and other industries that would serve the plant.

Phoenix Renewable Energy has taken the first step in creating a greener South Arkansas. On Thursday, August 13, the company broke ground on a brand new 44 acre renewable energy plant in Camden, Arkansas. The event included 400 local business owners, citizens of Camden, and state and local officials.  On hand for the event were Sam Anderson, CEO, Phoenix Renewable Energy, Camden Mayor Chris Claybacker, U.S. Senator Mark Pryor, and Representative Mike Ross. Audubon Arkansas, Ecological Conservation Organization, Repower America, and Sierra Club attended the event as well.

A $180 million wood pellet plant will occupy the site of the former International Paper mill. The pellets produced by the facility will be shipped to Europe, where cap and trade forces the countries to burn pellets instead of coal to generate electricity.

The plant is expected to open within sixteen to twenty months. It will employ up to 60 people and create 450 jobs in timber, transportation and other industries that would serve the plant.

Anderson credited two things for the plant becoming a practical idea: changes in Washington, D.C., and cap and trade.

“I believe if it were not for the Obama administration’s stimulus plan (and) concept of a new economy, the business we’re about to engage in would not be possible,” he said.

Anderson said that Europe’s cap and trade made his business possible, and that the business community should be more positive about cap and trade.

Pryor praised Phoenix for creating clean energy jobs in south Arkansas. In his speech, Pryor recognized the need for creating more green jobs in Arkansas and pointed to the “Clean Energy” signs held by several audience members.

Stephen Walker, Phoenix director of development, said the plant will be carbon dioxide neutral, with the trees serving as an offset because of the CO2 they absorb before they are harvested. The plant will use wood pulp to make the pellets and slashwood, waste ordinarily left behind when trees are harvested, to help fuel the plant. Extra electricity generated at the plant will be sent into the electric grid.

The company plans to build four identical plants elsewhere in Arkansas.

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5 responses to “Phoenix Renewable Energy Breaks Ground for Its New Facility in Camden

  1. Great idea for the future, also seeking employment certified millwright/structural welder/pipefitter/ iron worker/ were can i apply? thank you

  2. I’m a little confused on this project, as I usually become whenever environmentalists start praising biofuels as clean energy alternatives.

    I don’t understand exactly how cutting down trees all over Arkansas, transporting them to this plant, grinding them to dust, then shipping them to Europe is a carbon neutral strategy. I can imagine how a lot of CO2 might be generated in the process, not to mention at their final destination in Europe, but where’s the CO2 reclamation?

    • The waste from the timber industry is the main component of the pellet product. The trees are already being cut for the lumber. Using the scrap and sawdust is where the co2 savings factors in

  3. The CO2 reclamation is in the trees. They absorb CO2 before they are harvested. My assumption is that the company owns properties, and they plan to plant them with trees, which will absorb CO2 before the harvest, and the offset contributes to the carbon neutrality. I’m not sure if the company included the reuse of an old International Paper facility as a part of the offset. Phoenix also engages in solar energy, so it might use solar and biomass to generate electricity for the plant. The company claims that the excess electricity will be sent into the grid.

    I hear your concern, though. The national Sierra Club is trying to figure out where it stands on biomass energy. I think many environmentalists are as well.

    I’m okay with cutting down some pines in Arkansas. I’ve learned from widlife rescuers and forestry people that too many pine trees seriously disrupts the ecosystem. I’m okay with cutting down mimosa trees. They tend to be invasive. But I have the same concern that you, the SC, and everybody else has about biomass. Sustainable biomass plants are possible, but too often they don’t happen. We should keep an eye on Phoenix to make sure that it engages in sustainable land management.

    I think the bottom line is this. Sustainable biomass plants are possible. We should, however, try to meet our energy demand through energy efficiency and conservation. Biomass isn’t perfect, but it is a lot better than coal. We should be cautious in how we include biomass in our energy portfolio, but we should not disregard it either.

  4. Good article on this green energy plant. Wood pellets would seem to replace coal as an energy source in European countries while reducing overall CO2 emissions.

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