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.
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.