NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A big day for the largest biomass plant in the nation and for the Nacogdoches County economy.
Southern Power's biomass plant in Sacul is only in the testing phases.
But they've already given a boost to the local economy.
$21,000 dollars is being donated to the Nacogdoches Technical Training Center.
This after the first fuel delivery was made to the plant.
A big rig rounds the corner full of wood chips, also known as fuel to the largest biomass plant in the nation.
"We take that wood, we burn it at about 1,600 degrees. We use that heat to make steam to turn a turbine, to make power," said Ron Ray, Nacogdoches Generating Facility Plant Manager.
It's the first delivery to the Nacogdoches Generating Facility in Sacul.
Prime acres management out of Woodville won the right to deliver the first load.
They were the highest bidder in a charity auction, paying more than $10,000 dollars.
Those funds were matched by Southern Company and donated to the Nacogdoches Technical Training Center.
"Anybody can come in here, take wood and make power. We want to be more than that. We want to be a part of this community," said Ray.
Loads of fuel will continue coming in over the next several months as the company begins testing the plant.
They expect to be fully operational by June 2012, fulfilling a 20-year contract to provide power to Austin Energy.
But, the $475 million investment is already having a big impact on the community.
"Investment in my district means jobs. It's not just the equipment and the concrete and the jobs they provide at this facility, but they're going to be consuming a tremendous amount of wood products by-products, waste-products which is great for the timber industry," said District 3 Sen. Robert Nichols.
"We had a fire last month that burned over a million dollars worth of timber in our county. Those timber industry growers will benefit from this. The individuals that are cutting the wood will benefit from this. The individuals that are selling gas, are selling tires for the trucks that will be delivering fuel out here will also benefit. So, there's a huge impact on the community," said Joe English, Nacogdoches County Judge.
A million tons of wood waste will be brought to this facility every year and that fuel will come from a 75 mile radius of this plant.
"If you look at the direct and indirect value of those labor dollars and the local taxes, it's worth about 8 million dollars a year to the local community," said Oscar Harper, President & CEO of Southern Power.
He says a lot of eyes across the nation will be looking to this Sacul plant as they invest in renewable resources.
One thousand employees are working on the plant now.
When construction is complete, 38 full-time workers will be on-site.