Bio-Mass Plant to be Built in Lufkin

North Lufkin is the proposed site for a state-of-the-art bio-mass plant. The facility would employ dozens of people, but because of the materials needed to operate the plant, the overall economic impact of the facility would reach far outside the Lufkin area.

Danny Vines, president of Aspen Pipeline, said, "We'll be consuming roughly 1,500 tons of bio-mass a day and the transportation, the preparation, the grinding, the chipping, will impact a lot of jobs throughout East Texas."

But not all Lufkin residents are on board with the idea of a plant being built in their neighborhood. Several citizens in North Lufkin have complained to the Planning and Zoning board, including a woman who has rental property in the area.

Dorothy Wilson, Lufkin Planning and Zoning Director, said, "She's concerned that this may reduce the value of her property and we've heard from a resident who moved here recently from California that when the rezoning is completed, there may be future development on the site that's negative to the county."

Many residents also have environmental concerns about the facility and its potential affects on their health. Plant employees would be converting wood waste from plants into a usable boiler fuel through grinding or chipping, then burning it to produce energy.

"The CO2 that we put out from the plant is then consumed by the other trees during their growing cycle," said Vines. "So this is truly a carbon-neutral transaction. It qualifies 100 percent for green power and it will be the first plant of this type within the State of Texas."

The wood-fired, bio-mass power plant is an $84-million project. More than $53-million of that will be funded by the Angelina Neches River Authority with tax-free bond money.

Lufkin was chosen because it's surrounded by wood mills that will contribute material to the plant. Supporters believe it will create a new market for what used to be a wasted by-product.

Construction on the bio-mass plant is set to begin in August. If everything is approved, the plant is expected to be up and running by November of next year.