Plans for a renewable power plant in the old Trus Joist building off Hwy. 72 in Colbert have been in the works for a couple of years.
Now, the money has lined up to make it happen.
Madison County State Senator Frank Ginn (R) said Tuesday that Georgia Renewable Power (GRP) closed last week on a $180 million loan for the Madison County power plant, the biggest business the county has ever seen.
“It’s by far the single largest investment in Madison County we’ve seen,” he said.
Construction is underway and the 65-megawatt plant is expected to be open by June 2019 at the latest. GRP is also constructing a power plant in Franklin County. Both facilities will burn chipped wood to generate power.
Madison County officials anticipate at least $1 million in tax income annually from the Colbert plant once it’s operational. There will also be revenues from water sold by the county to the company. The industrial authority and GRP have yet to finalize water rates. The Colbert plant will need between 600,000-and-1.2 million gallons of water per day. Much of that water will be run through lines from out-of-county sources. The industrial authority purchases water from Commerce and Franklin County.
Dave Shaffer, chief operating officer and president of GRP, offered local leaders an overview of the plans at a meeting in Carnesville in September. He said the facilities are part of Georgia Power’s “integrated resource plan.”
The company president said GRP will have some wood transported on the rail line that runs next to the Hwy. 72 plant, but most of the material will come by truck from a 75-mile radius of the facility. He anticipates about 80 trucks a day running six days a week, not on Sundays, with about 500,000 tons of wood product coming through the facility each year. The plant will burn construction debris and “slash,” such as tree limbs, that will be shredded into chips by contractors.
“Each plant needs $10 million worth of fuel (wood product) a year,” said Shaffer. “So you’re taking $10 million and spreading it within a 75-mile radius of the plant. It’s local, local, local.”
The company will keep about 35 days of wood on site outside.
Shaffer said the plant does produce a cloud, but he said it’s all water vapor.
“On a cool day, you’ll see a plume coming out of the top of the cooling tower,” he said. “But it will be dissipated within 300 feet of the cooling tower. It’s only water.”
Shaffer said the plant will run 50 out of 52 weeks of the year. The federal government requires the plant to shut down for two weeks.
Shaffer said there will be roughly 500 jobs generated by each of the new plants — from construction work to trucking and maintenance employment. Only three full-time GRP workers will be on site in Colbert, but the company works with numerous contractors.
Ginn and local Republican House representatives Alan Powell and Tom McCall said they’re excited to see the plants come to Madison and Franklin counties.
“Projects like this bring power to the people and I commend everyone who worked diligently to bring these two important power plants and high paying jobs to our local community,” said Ginn. “This would not be possible without cooperation from our legislative delegation, local elected officials, Georgia Power and members of the Georgia PSC. I look forward to working with everyone to ensure construction is finished, jobs are created and our local communities experience economic development.”