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sumter county plant

Reporting by WVUA 23’s Maria Blough

A new plant is coming to Sumter County, and officials hope it will re-energize West Alabama.

The Sumter County Commission announced that the renewable energy company, Enviva, is building a plant at the Port of Epes.

“This is what this area needs,” said Walter Porter, the mayor of Epes. “We’re slowly deteriorating away due to the lack of jobs for our youth. We educate them. We send them through school. Once they leave, they got to go to Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, somewhere to get a job and more than likely, they’re going to live there, but with this, now they can come home.”

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Enviva is the world’s largest producer of wood pellets. These pellets are a fuel alternative to burning coal. John Keppler, the chairman and CEO of Enviva, said they’ve already sold all the pellets the plant will produce up until 2040.

Keppler promised his company will be transparent and said they would spend around $100 million annually in the area after their initial investment of more than $175 million. Once the plant is built, Enviva will employ around 85 people directly. They are expected to create over 150 additional jobs through the plant’s indirect needs.

“You’re looking at a quality of life change,” said Marcus Campbell, the Sumter County Commission chairman. “You’re talking about families having an opportunity to not only work in Sumter County, but to live and play in Sumter County. So any time a magnificent industry of this magnitude comes into your county, you’re just excited.”

Enviva plans to break ground on the new facility within the next several months after all the appropriate permits have been approved.

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