State officials from Richmond and Charlottesville recently toured Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative’s biomass electric generating facility in South Boston.

Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring, Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball and Virginia State Forester Rob Farrell saw firsthand how the plant is boosting Virginia’s economy and providing renewable electricity.

NOVEC’s biomass plant uses wood waste to generate up to 49.9 megawatts of electricity — enough to power 16,000 homes.

“Renewable energy is generated every day around the clock with our biomass generating facility,” NOVEC President/CEO Stan Feuerberg noted to the visitors. “Unlike solar and wind energy, it’s not dependent on the sun shining or wind blowing to produce electricity.”

NOVEC does not buy timber tracts or cut down trees to obtain fuel for the plant.

“When commercial logging operators harvest merchantable timber, they leave behind tree tops, limbs and brush,” fuel manager Mike Davis explained. “Our plant provides landowners with a market for that wood waste, eliminating open burning, landfill dumping and methane from the natural decay of wood left in the forest.”

The cooperative contributes approximately $9.5 million annually to the local economy through taxes, payroll and businesses it helps to supports. One study found that every direct job at a biomass plant creates 2.2 more jobs in other industries.

Mike Dailey, NOVEC vice president of energy and business development, said, “Our plant provides 27 full-time jobs, as well as secondary jobs in timber, transportation and manufacturing sectors.”

State forester Farrell added, “Plants like NOVEC’s are crucial in utilizing woody biomass residues from forestry operations. This increased utilization generates a much-needed revenue stream to carry out future operations essential to sustainably managing our forest resources and contributes to the $21 billion dollars and the 108,000 jobs that the forest industry provides to the Virginia economy each year.”

After the tour, Secretary Ball commented, “Our visit to NOVEC’s biomass plant was very informative. We appreciate its contribution to the local economy and innovative steps in support of carbon reduction and forest management.”