LITTLE ROCK – Entergy Arkansas will be energizing a new substation today to provide 17 megawatts of power to the Highland Pellets biomass facility in Pine Bluff.

Entergy’s transmission project management group began construction of the Jefferson Industrial substation in April.

“Entergy’s vision statement is ‘We Power Life,’ and we at Entergy Arkansas are proud to partner with Highland Pellets to power this state-of-the-art facility,” said Rick Riley, Entergy Arkansas president and CEO.

Highland Pellets’ will be a preferred supplier of sustainably sourced wood pellets for export to Europe, where they are used as a cleaner replacement fuel for coal in electricity generating stations.

“Highland has enjoyed building a close relationship with our dedicated and creative partners at Entergy to deliver cost effective and reliable power to our facility,” said Highland Pellets Chairman Tom Reilley.

According to Highland Pellets’ website, the Pine Bluff facility will provide 68 full time jobs to the local community and over 450 direct jobs in the transport and forest industries supply chain. The direct annual economic benefit of the Highland Pellets Pine Bluff facility is estimated at $77 million per year.

“Economic development is an exciting job,” said Lou Ann Nisbett, who leads the Economic Development Alliance for Jefferson County. “But it’s even more exciting when you have an opportunity to work with such an amazing group as Highland Pellets. Tom Reilley and his team from the first minute we met them have been awesome to work with. For Pine Bluff and Jefferson County this has been monumental in their commitment to locate, build a new facility and create great jobs.”

The Pine Bluff facility will utilize up to 1.4 million tons per year of wood feedstock, or fiber, taken from sustainably managed private working forests in the local area. Highland Pellets reports that even after allowing for the energy spent in collecting the wood, processing it into pellets and transporting the pellets by ship to Europe, the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions released from burning the pellets is around 78 percent less than if the power station in Europe burned coal.

“Entergy Arkansas provides safe, reliable and affordable energy that industrial customers can count on,” said Mike Maulden, Entergy Arkansas’ business and economic development director.

“In addition, Arkansas’ skilled workforce and Pine Bluff’s proximity to southern yellow pine forests and mainline rail make it an ideal location for Highland to successfully compete in the global market. We welcome Highland to southeast Arkansas and look forward to serving them as customers and as business partners.”

Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 700,000 customers in 63 counties. The power company is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation, an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations.

Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 10,000 megawatts of nuclear power.

Entergy delivers electricity to 2.8 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of approximately $11.5 billion and more than 13,000 employees.