Renewable energy comes to Stone County

By Krystal Allan - bio | email

STONE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Trees are something you can see for miles in Stone County.  Now, they'll be fueling the production of a renewable energy in South Mississippi, wood pellets.

"There's nothing added to this product to produce a pellet. We are 100% carbon neutral, 100% green facility," says Terry Dunlap, Piney Woods Pellets plant manager.

"We wanted to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and we wanted to go green to reduce carbon emissions. President Obama wants the country to do that," says Osmond Crosby, Piney Woods Pellets C.E.O.

Piney Woods Pellets will be up and running in Stone County in about six weeks and produce about 50,000 tons of pellets each year.  The plant is expected to bring 25 new green jobs to the area.

"For every ton of pellets we produce and is consumed in this country, that's two and half less barrels of foreign fuel we have to import," says Dunlap.

The production of pellets could also mean less when it comes to consumers' pocketbooks.

"We heated a 2,000 square foot home for $450.00 from October through April, so that can give you an idea of the savings," says Dunlap.

Wood pellets do require a wood-pellet stove. They cost between $1700 to $2800, and most come with built-in thermostats. Pellets can't be used in cars, but Crosby says using pellets as an energy source for other purposes could free up more petroleum, especially domestic oil.

Though pellet production might be new to South Mississippi, Dunlap says it's likely not going to stay that way.

"The progress and the migration is coming South," Dunlap says.