Construction to begin soon on Fitzgerald energy plant - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Construction to begin soon on Fitzgerald energy plant

By  Stephanie Springer  - bio | email

BEN HILL COUNTY, GA (WALB) –At 16 percent, Fitzgerald has one of the highest and longest running unemployment rates in the state.

But in the next couple months, construction will begin on a new energy plant, which will create much needed work in the area.

Ben Hill County may be a small community but many folks are dealing with a tremendous loss.

"In the last 18 months we've lost over 1,500 jobs and in a community of 9,000 that's a shock," said John Flythe, Director of Economic Development.

But In a matter of months things will change. Construction will begin on one of the first biomass plants of its type in the region...Fitzgerald Renewable Energy LLC.

"It's a 50 megawatt power plant and they will be utilizing 600,000 tons of wood which translates into 15 million dollars worth of purchase of raw material in and around the community," said Flythe.

Sawdust, bark and wood chips will be used to fuel the 232 million dollar project.

"I think if you looked long, and hard you couldn't find a better site because it sits between three suppliers of raw material," said Flythe.

The plant sits right next to Southern Veneer, which will likely supply most of the wood, and limit transportation costs.

But most importantly, the plant will create long term work in the area.

"In the tree farming community that will employ 120 to 150 employees," said Flythe.

During the maximum construction phase up to 250 workers will be needed.

"The 250 jobs they will be renting hotel rooms, buying gas so that will help the community," said Flythe.

The plant will also create 25 jobs.

"The 25 permanent jobs will be paid a better than average wage in the community," said Flythe.

Right now, Alternative Energy is the main focus for city leaders and people can expect to see similar projects in the future.

"Congress passed all these incentives and when there are incentives we are going to go after them. It creates jobs and its long term jobs its not cycle jobs," said Flythe,

Construction is slated to begin in early March.

City leaders say they are also working on getting another plant to locate in Fitzgerald. It will be a 2.1 billion dollar coal plant which will likely employ up to 1500 people during construction, which will take 3 or 4 years.

Once operational it will be one of the cleanest solid fuel power plants in the United States.

Officials expect commercial operation at the plant will begin in the next couple years.

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