FRANKFORT, Ky. - Gov. Matt Bevin and U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers (KY-05) announced on Tuesday November 1, 2016 that the Harlan County Industrial Development Authority, Inc. has received preliminary approval from the U.S. Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement (OSMRE) for a $2.52 million grant for an alternative energy manufacturing center in Harlan County, Ky.
The funds will be used to leverage an additional $10.5 million in private investment from Harlan Wood Products LLC to create 30-35 new jobs, and approximately 60 new indirect jobs at a new Harlan Wood Products production center to be located at a previously reclaimed abandoned mine lands site at Yancey, Ky.
“This AML pilot program is a tremendous opportunity for business leaders in Appalachian counties to help shape the future of Kentucky's economic landscape,” said Gov. Bevin. “This wood pellet manufacturing center will create new jobs to replace some of those destroyed by President Obama’s war on coal. We are blessed by an abundance of natural resources in Kentucky’s forests and I appreciate the innovation and investment being made by Harlan Wood Products to take full advantage of these assets.”
The center, when opened, is expected to annually produce 75,000 tons of wood pellets that will be exported to Europe (primarily Italy and Denmark) for biomass fuel for residential and commercial markets. Wood pellets are a source of sustainable, green energy that has become an internationally traded biomass, with a market size expected to increase from 16 million metric tons in 2010 to 59 million tons or more in 2020.
U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers (KY-05), Chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, who worked to secure the funds through the FY 2016 Omnibus appropriations bill, has said the AML pilot project will be a double win for Eastern Kentucky by reclaiming and redeveloping abandoned mine land to spur economic development where it's needed the most.
"Our future hinges upon our ingenuity and our ability to see beyond the desperation in our coalfields," said Congressman Rogers. "As mining engineers by trade, Tim and David Howard are doing just that, by pursuing a new way to invest in Harlan County and employ our talented workforce. I applaud them and the local leaders who worked to bring this project to fruition."
The pellet manufacturing process involves debarking, drying, grinding and extruding wood fiber under high pressure and temperature. The raw materials for this production center will consist of the cull timber and branches greater than 4 inches in diameter that remain from area logging operations, as well as saw dust from nearby wood processing facilities.
While Harlan Wood Products will provide the investment to purchase and install the equipment used in the manufacturing process, the Harlan County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) will use the $2.52 million to insure that the site has the necessary water, natural gas and electric, foundation work and shell facility to house the equipment and access road upgrades.
Additionally, IDA will begin exploring a partnership with the University of Kentucky to determine the opportunities for utilizing a portion of the facility’s revenue for reforestation efforts within the reclaimed mine areas of the county.
The AML Pilot project is a joint effort by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the Department for Local Government, the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet and the Energy and Environment Cabinet, Division of Abandoned Mine Lands.
Making the announcement Tuesday with Gov. Bevin and Congressman Rogers were Charles Snavely, Secretary, Energy and Environment Cabinet, Sandy Dunahoo, Commissioner, Department of Local Government, Greg Johnson, Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, Regina Stivers, Deputy Secretary, Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet and Dr. Karen Waldrop, Deputy Commissioner, Kentucky Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.
Besides the alternative energy manufacturing center, OSMRE has given preliminary approval for a $12.5 million grant for the development of the Appalachian Wildlife Center in Bell County, Ky., a $2.5 million grant for a manufacturing training project by the eKentucky Advanced Manufacturing Institute, Inc. (eKAMI), a $5 million grant for an industrial park project by the city of Pikeville, and a $500,000 grant for Impact Outdoor Adventures in Clay County for adventure tourism.
The pilot program is part of $90 million in funds that has been set aside for one-time grants to Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to return coal sites to productive uses that will bring new jobs to replace the thousands lost during the downturn of the industry.
Counties that are eligible for projects include: Adair, Bath, Bell, Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Casey, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Cumberland, Edmonson, Elliott, Estill, Fleming, Floyd, Garrard, Green, Greenup, Harlan, Hart, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lewis, Lincoln, McCreary, Madison, Magoffin, Martin, Menifee, Metcalfe, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Nicholas, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Powell, Pulaski, Robertson, Rockcastle, Rowan, Russell, Wayne, Whitley, and Wolfe.