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German Pellets: Construction starting soon in La

URANIA, La. (AP) -- Construction will begin soon on a wood pellet plant in central Louisiana, according to an announcement posted Wednesday on the German Pellets GmbH website.

It said the plant will be able to produce about 1 million tonnes of pellets — about 1.1 million tons in U.S. measurements, and double the capacity of the company's first plant in Woodville, Texas.

"Pellet consumption worldwide is on the rise, especially in Europe. This means that the construction of large production capacities is necessary," said German Pellets CEO Peter Leibold.

The company said European power plants' demand for wood pellets has risen sharply, as has use by consumers and large-scale users such as hospitals, schools, commercial buildings and industrial facilities.

The Louisiana Public Facilities Authority approved $300 million in bonds in December for Louisiana Pellets Inc., which is expected to employ 80 people. About 355 people lost jobs when Louisiana-Pacific Corp. shuttered a plant that made particleboard and fiber board in 2002, turning it over to Georgia-Pacific Corp.

Louisiana Pellets Inc. is to be built on that site in LaSalle Parish between Alexandria and Monroe.

German Pellets GmbH, headquartered in Wismar, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, said it chose Urania because the region is densely forested and timber grows much faster in Louisiana's subtropical climate than in Germany.

The Texas plant, on the site of a former wood-chip mill, is taking job applications through the parent company's website.

Pellets from both plants will be shipped to Europe through Port Arthur, Texas, the company said.

Another company, Gulf Coast Renewable Energy LLC, plans two wood pellet plants in Mississippi, each able to make 320,000 metric tons (about 353,000 tons) of pellets a year. One is to be in George County and the other in Copiah County.