Highland Pellets Opens New Plant Near Little Rock

The $229 million wood-pellet facility in Pine Bluff is slated to produce 600,000 metric tons per year of sustainably harvested wood pellets.

By Scott Baltic, Contributing Editor

Pine Bluff, Ark., wood-pellet facility
Pine Bluff, Ark., wood-pellet facility

Pine Bluff, Ark.Highland Pellets has opened a new, $229 million wood-pellet facility in Pine Bluff, Ark. The plant is slated to produce 600,000 metric tons per year of wood pellets, a feedstock favored by European industrial utilities to lower their carbon footprints while providing sustainable base load power.

The wood used to make the pellets will be sustainably harvested, which will reduce dependence on coal-burning power plants. Arkansas has more than 18.8 million acres of forest land, covering more than half of the state.

“This plant began with a simple economic goal, but has evolved into not just producing sustainable fuel, but producing sustainable outcomes for our employees, our community and our environment,” Tom Reilley, chairman & co-founder of Highland Pellets, said in a prepared statement.

The 150-acre Highland Pellets site is part of the 785-acre Jefferson Industrial Park, within the Pine Bluff municipal limits. The park is also home to such major companies as ArcelorMittal, UPS and Tyson Foods and is served by both the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroads.

Highland Pellets, which is headquartered in Boston, did not respond to Commercial Property Executive’s request for additional information.

Nexus PMG of Addison, Texas, is the facility’s independent engineering consultant, and Astec Inc. of Chattanooga, Tenn., is the manufacturer of the majority of the process equipment and is also the EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) contractor for Highland.

As part of its sustainability program, and also just because of the economics, Highland generally uses only residual parts of trees (branches, tops and sawdust) and “thinnings,” trees that have no commercial value because they are cut down to thin a forest, but are too small to be sold for other uses, such as sawn lumber.

Image courtesy of Highland Pellets