The City of Wiggins is continuously discussing with the Stone County Board of Supervisors and now the Stone Utility Authority on establishing a partnership to meet Enviva’s water needs.
At the regular monthly aldermen meetings on Tuesday, December 21, 2021, city officials tried to iron out the finer details and decide which path to take.
For more than one year, the company has been working with elected officials to potentially establish a state-of-the-art wood pellet facility projected to produce over 1 million metric tons of wood pellets annually after completion.
The Bethesda, Maryland company, one of the largest suppliers of wood pellets to international markets, reportedly told local officials the proposed Bond site would require millions of gallons of water each month.
Enviva requests that the local government invest taxpayer dollars to build the infrastructure to accommodate those needs.
Since the City operates water lines closest to the proposed plant, the cheapest option is for the City to expand the water line to the Enviva site. According to board members at the meeting, the Stone Utility Authority would still service the areas’ sewage lines.
Enviva asked the City of Wiggins to invest over $3.5 million, including a $1 million water well and a $1.5 million water tank. The City voted to write Enviva a letter, offering its support.
However, the City would need to finance the infrastructure to get Enviva moved in. The Aldermen plan to have the financing costs prorated through Enviva’s water rates, but the board wants that agreement in writing before investing taxpayer funds.
To pay off the loan needed to build the water well and water tank, the City wants Enviva to agree to pay for a guaranteed rate for water usage. If not, the City would need help with infrastructure costs by either asking the County to build the water well or tank or applying for additional loans and grants to construct the project.
Up until the most recent board meeting, Enviva representatives had yet to contact the City to personally discuss what each party needed. Instead, the company communicated through a third party, the Stone County Economic Development Partnership.
The City discussed multiple options before tabling the measure until Enviva could address board members directly.
“I’d like to make a motion to table this until we have a chance to meet with Enviva and verify guaranteed rates and verify usage,” Aldermen McKay said.
The motion was passed, and the meeting adjourned.