Governor Deal has announced that General Biofuels will build a $60M facility in Washington County to manufacture wood pellets for fuel production in Europe. As European countries shutter both coal and nuclear and switch to renewable fuels sources, the demand of wood pellets continues to create business here in the United States. The plant will be located just blocks off Highway 15 on Waco Dr., and production is slated for early 2014 according to Deal’s office.
This plant will employ 35 people and also benefit other local businesses both during and after construction (i.e. work boots and clothing, meals out, all types of office and plant facility supplies, safety training). All of these jobs are the direct result of companies using renewable fuel sources.
Business will increase for Sandersville Railroad and Norfolk Southern as these two rail lines will move the pellets to the Port of Savannah for shipping overseas. What I have said many times over bears repeating here: I am glad to see a business succeed, including the Tarbutton’s privately held railroad. I can’t support Plant Washington because the project will harm the air, water, and health of local residents near the plant as well as downwind and downstream. Plant Washington is a good example of putting personal profits ahead of a community.
Charles Lee with the Chamber of Commerce and Industrial Development Authority told me he can’t provide information on public facility bonds or tax abatements as those details are still in negotiation. Regardless of the project, I urge the County Commissioners to carefully consider all projects involving taxpayer dollars.
Local citizens need to pay attention as well. The county can issue bonds through the Public Facilities Authority without any taxpayer input except comments that citizens may make at a county commission meeting. Voter approval is not required for issuing these types of bonds.
There is still a lot to learn about General Biofuels. At face value it is certainly a much more progressive and promising economic option for Washington County and our neighbors than coal, for which local leaders should be commended.