Ramble On

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Some Fibrowatt Answers, Part 1

I am pulling this response from a comment I received from Terry at Fibrowatt:

In response to Mr. Shoemaker's comments ---

In regard to jobs: One of the important aspects of a Fibrowatt plant is jobs - construction jobs and permanent employment associated with fuel receipt and fuel processing, fuel procurement, electrical and instrument technicians, plant maintenance, plant operators, control room operators, and plant management. At the forum Mr. Shoemaker refers to we were asked about the job potential and I explained that the typical plant employment is between 30 - 35 people. Many of these jobs are very skilled jobs which pay well. If Mr. Shoemaker is suggesting that only a few of these jobs (entry-level jobs) can be filled by the local work force I think he is selling the labor force in Surry County North Carolina short. As we have said many times, we value qualified and skilled workers, workers that likely already exist in the region. Furthermore, these are skills that can be gained in anticipation of a plant that will likely not be up in operation for 2 years or more. At our plant in Minnesota, we have seen dedicated and hard working individuals living in Benson move up through the plant work force. As an example, one of the general contractor's security guards (that grew up in Benson), after they began working at the Fibrominn plant, has risen from the fuel receipt position to a plant operator, several grades above what they started at. We value local workers as they have the roots in the community that will lead to good job retention.

Furthermore, his reference to what was said about construction jobs is far from accurate. As I explained at the Dobson forum, the plant will be built by an engineering, procurement, and construction company and they will have responsibility for the construction labor force. Construction jobs will go to qualified and skilled trade workers that can meet the needs of the EPC contractor. These too are skills that will exist within Surry County and this region of NC. What is important is that this is likely a 24 month construction period that will employ locally and bring in labor resulting in a significant flow of money into the local economy.

As also mentioned in previous posts, there are a number of supplemental jobs associated with transportation and the manufacturing of the ash by-product fertilizer. Studies in NC indicate that for every one of the jobs at a renewable energy plant as many as 1-2 additional jobs are created or supported.

If readers are interested in the challenges experienced in Minnesota regarding plant start-up and emissions, I suggest they go to the Fibrowatt website where they will find a discussion on this issue.

Finally, feel free to investigate what the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League says but do this with caution. As we have found on several occasions, BREDL has made a number of accusations that have been riddled with wrong assumptions and misinformation. Please spend a little time on the Fibrowatt website and you will get a flavor of how BREDL has inaccurately portrayed Fibrowatt as explained in our October 5, 2009 release.

Terry Walmsley, Fibrowatt LLC

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