Business Briefs

By Anna Simet | March 29, 2018

SBP directorate changes 
The Sustainable Biomass Partnership has appointed Francis Sullivan as its independent, non-executive chair, effective July 1. The appointment marks the first step in the implementation of SBP’s new, multistakeholder governance model.

Sullivan, currently a senior adviser at HSBC Holdings plc, will replace Thomas Dalsgaard, executive vice president of Ørsted, and CEO of Ørsted Energy Thermal Power, who has held the office of chair since October 2016. Dalsgaard will step down as an SBP director and chair of the SBP board, coincident with Francis taking up his appointment.

Sullivan has a background in environmental science, specializing in forestry and land use. He spent the first 16 years of his career with World Wildlife Federation, the conservation organization, in various leadership roles, during which he played a major role in establishing the Forest Stewardship Council. He then moved to HSBC, the multinational bank, to lead its work on integrating sustainability and climate change mitigation perspectives into the business. After 14 years at HSBC, Francis brings with him a wealth of experience and understanding of delivering sustainability solutions in a commercial setting.

PA Biomass Energy Association expands to Mid-Atlantic
The Pennsylvania Biomass Energy Association has expanded its focus beyond the keystone state to the region, and will now be known as the Mid-Atlantic Bioenergy Council. The material focus of the organization remains the same: representing the use of biomass to produce clean heat, power, biogas and soil amendments, but now the organization is geographically expanded from Pennsylvania to the Mid-Atlantic region. The council remains dedicated to supporting the use of biomass in the residential, small business, commercial, institutional, agricultural and industrial sectors.

MABEC Board Chair John Costlow, president of the Sustainable Energy Fund, remarked, "More than anything, this move is a reflection of our members' business interests which have never been confined to one state. This expanded focus will allow MABEC to better support the biomass energy industry, in all its forms, and create new opportunities for its businesses and our organization."

Morbark acquires Rayco Manufacturing
Morbark LLC has completed the acquisition of Rayco Manufacturing Inc. The transaction represents the first addition since affiliates of the private equity firm Stellex Capital Management LP acquired Morbark in 2016. The purchase of Rayco represents a significant move towards Morbark’s strategic focus on broadening the range of tree care and industrial equipment, aftermarket parts, and service offered to customers.

 The current range of Rayco products includes: stump cutters, crawler trucks, forestry mulchers, multi-tool carriers, and attachments, brush chippers and the all-new AT71 aerial trimmer.  Rayco founder John Bowling will continue his work with the team to develop new products, and help improve the company’s existing product lines. He will continue to have an economic interest in the combined business and will be a member of Morbark’s board of directors.

Morbark will operate Rayco as a new division, maintaining its brand identity. Rayco’s experienced management team will continue to manage their operations. Teams from each company will work together to determine how to be more efficient and leverage each other’s strengths.

PWI to expand with government grant
With financial support from Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, pellet producer Industries P.W.I. has received a repayable contribution of $400,000 toward its total investment of $3,565,000.

The project will involve building a new warehouse and a new production facility, and acquiring specialized tools. CED’s financial support will go toward the purchase and installation of production equipment, including laboratory equipment, automated packaging tools and two separate production lines.

Founded in 1950, PWI’s products are sold in the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential sectors across Canada, the U.S. and abroad. Its biomass products include green firelogs, wood pellets and Logik-ê fire starters.

Located in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, the business employs 45 people.

Lignetics completes NEWP acquisition
On Feb. 27, Lignetics Inc. announced the acquisition of New England Wood Pellet LLC, which includes manufacturing plants in Jaffrey, New Hampshire; Schuyler, New York; Deposit, New York; and Youngsville, Pennsylvania. Lignetics is the largest residential wood pellet manufacturing company in the U.S., with a post-acquisition production capacity of approximately 1 million tons of wood pellets per year. The company now has 13 plant locations in the states of Maine, Oregon (2), Idaho, West Virginia, Virginia, Wisconsin (3), New Hampshire, New York (2), and Pennsylvania. New England Wood Pellet is being sold by the parent company Rentech Inc.

Mark Wilson, New England Wood Pellet’s CEO, has agreed to provide consulting services through a transition to ensure a seamless experience for New England Wood Pellets customers, suppliers, and employees.

Yellowknife pellet-fired district heat system wins FCM award
The city of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, is the 2018 winner in the energy category of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Sustainable Communities Awards. Yellowknife's wood pellet-fired district energy system heats a group of five municipal buildings that previously consumed about 367,000 liters of heating oil a year. The switch to pellets is expected to lower GHGs by 829 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent a year, almost half of the city's GHG reduction target, and increase its corporate renewable energy use by 10 percent. The city expects to see direct cost savings between $140,000 and $160,000 a year, and additional maintenance and operations savings are also expected.  

FCM's Sustainable Communities Awards celebrate the most innovative environmental initiatives in Canadian cities and communities of all sizes. Through these awards, FCM recognizes and celebrates sustainability leaders and trailblazers in municipalities across Canada

Enviva completes acquisition,contracts for Japan power plant pellet supply
Enviva Holdings LP announced Feb. 16 that through its previously announced joint venture, Enviva JV Development Co. LLC, it has completed the acquisition of a wood pellet production plant in Greenwood, South Carolina, and related assets from The Navigator Co. S.A., a Portuguese paper and pulp company. This acquisition is the first investment by the new joint venture, which was recently created by Enviva to acquire, develop and construct wood pellet production plants and deep-water marine terminals in the Southeast U.S.

The Greenwood plant employs nearly 80 full-time employees. Enviva intends to make investments in the Greenwood plant to improve its operational efficiency, and add additional emissions control equipment that the company expects will increase its production capacity to 600,000 metric tons of wood pellets per year by 2019, subject to receiving the necessary permits.

On Feb. 22, Enviva Partners LP announced it has entered into a firm 10-year take-or-pay offtake contract with Marubeni Corp. to supply 100,000 metric tons per year of wood pellets to a new power plant in Japan. Under the contract, deliveries will be made for 10 years, starting in 2022.

NASF launches first-of-its kind resource:
With encouragement from federal trade agencies and support from the USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters has created an open-access clearinghouse for national and state regulations that affect the management of U.S. forests, and help to demonstrate the sustainable and legal nature in which U.S. timber is harvested. “Since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, nongovernmental organizations and their governmental counterparts around the world have been working to provide assurances to consumers that their wood products originate from sustainable and legal sources,” said George Geissler, Oklahoma state forester and NASF president. “In the U.S., providing these assurances can be time-consuming and expensive because many of the regulations and programs which support legal and sustainability determinations are state-specific. To remedy this problem, NASF has launched a legal and sustainable timber assurance online resource—TimberAssurance.Org.”

“It is critical that the process for assuring sustainable harvests is never so cumbersome that it presents a barrier to international market entry for U.S. wood products,” said Jay Farrell, NASF executive director. “TimberAssurance.Org is a first-of-its-kind resource for identifying the state-specific programs and policies that affect forest management on all private lands in the United States. This information will help assure government agencies, wood purchasers, and others that U.S. wood is sourced the right way.”

Active Energy opens Utah facility
U.K.-based Active Energy Group plc announced its CoalSwitch plant in Utah officially became operational the week of Feb. 5, and is producing the company’s high-calorific, high-bulk-density biomass pellet. Active Energy said biomass fuel produced at the facility will be prepared for delivery under offtake agreements that are already in place.

According to the company, CoalSwitch is produced primarily from forestry waste and other industrial cellulose waste products. The product can be fired with coal in existing coal-fired power plants at any ratio, up to 100 percent.