Alternative energy company to create 33 jobs
TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Jeff Nichols, center, president of Great American Pellets, speaks during a ground breaking ceremony Wednesday at the site. Also pictured are from left, Christine Verdier, chief of staff, Sen. Argall's office; Ron Walbert, chairman, Lower Towamensing Township board of supervisors; Bill Richards; and Stephen Yokimishyn, Northeastern Regional director, Governor's Action Team.
A new alternative energy company that will create 33 jobs within the next three years is on its way to Lower Towamensing Township.
Great American Pellets, an alternative energy company that will manufacture premium hardwood pellets, held its ground-breaking ceremony on Wednesday.
Located at 2115 Little Gap Rd., the company will manufacture premium hardwood pellets for use in pellet stoves to provide heat for residential properties, said Jeff Nichols, president.
The business will create 14 of those jobs when the building is completed later this year, said Nichols, who added that the business has been designed to be both environmentally sustainable and economically profitable.
It will also do extensive renovations, including some demolition and additions, to the 31,000-square-foot blighted building in a brown-field zone, Nichols said.
"We're very excited to bring new jobs to Carbon County," Nichols said. "We're bringing new jobs to the area creating clean, green energy that this country so desperately needs."
Christine Verdier, chief of staff, Sen. David Argall's office, said it gives her great pleasure to know the company is "going green."
"It's going to rehabilitate and revive our area," Verdier said.
Nichols said the project is consistent with the Keystone Principles for Growth, Investment & Resource Conservation because it will revitalize and reuse a blighted industrial property and utilize existing infrastructure. In addition, he said over 60 percent of the materials removed during the demolition will be recycled.
The manufacturing plant was designed by EcoTherm, Inc., one of the nation's leading designers and builders of wood pellet plants, which Nichols said was involved in the site selection and process design.
"EcoTherm designed the plant for energy and operational efficiency," he said. "It has been an integral part of our team offering its expertise on environmental and safety issues."
Stephen Yokimishyn, Northeastern Regional director, Governor's Action Team, said the state provided the company with an $80,850 funding offer, coordinated by the Governor's Action Team, as well as a $770,000 loan and a $220,000 grant from the Alternative and Clean Energy program, which is administered jointly by the Department of Conservation and Economic Development and the Department of Environmental Protection under the direction of the Commonwealth Financing Authority.
"It's eco-friendly, and is going to restore a building," Yokimishyn said. "To some, 33 jobs over three years might not seem like much, but this 33 equals 200 or 300 jobs in other areas of the state."
Nichols said the project also received support from U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorksi, Gov. Ed Rendell, state Sen. David Argall, Speaker of the State House of Representatives Keith McCall, the Carbon County Board of Commissioners, and the Lower Towamensing Township board of supervisors.
The company will use only whole trees that will be debarked and chipped to ensure that no leaves, bark or other foreign matter will enter the material stream.
The clean wood chips will be stored inside to prevent absorption of excess moisture, as the chips are ground, dried and then fused under very high pressure into cylindrical pellets.
The finished pellets go through screeners to remove dust and then are packed in 40-pound bags for delivery to customers.
Nichols said EcoTherm suggested that the company capture all the dust from the manufacturing process, and use it to fuel the dryer instead of burning oil.