Southside PDC secures grant funds for a new wood waste-fired biomass electric generating facility.

South Boston Energy projectTractor-trailer rigs packed with wood waste are lifted high in the sky while the contents are emptied to use as fuel at the new South Boston Energy Plant, which will use renewable biofuels to generate power for customers of the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC). Photo courtesy of the News and Record, South Boston/Halifax County, VA."Waste not, want not," goes the age old adage that suits the South Boston Energy Project. South Boston Energy is partnering with Halifax County Service Authority and Halifax County to turn waste, by-products and residue into a useable energy source. The benefit is twofold: the generating of needed electricity and the disposal of unneeded wastes. The first loads of wood waste were delivered at the new power plant in March.

The project is made possible by a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development prepared by Southside Planning District Commission on behalf of Halifax County. The $650,000 grant was used to construct off-site improvements to serve South Boston Energy, a 49.9 megawatt biomass-fueled power plant located on a 100-acre brownfield site near South Boston, Virginia. The new wood-fired power plant will have the capacity to burn as much as 600,000 tons of wood waste annually to generate renewable electric energy to serve the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC).

Biomass fuel refers to energy created from biological wastes. In this case, forest product waste. Even though the term may be unfamiliar, anyone who has used a woodstove to heat a house has used a small version of a biomass-fueled power facility. The new power plant will utilize wood waste from local logging operations to produce the power rather than coal or natural gas. The area has an abundance of wood waste available within a 75 mile radius of the new facility.

The construction of the new power plant is employing 100 individuals and when completed later this summer will create 26 fulltime jobs, with fifty-one percent targeting low-to-moderate income individuals.