2017-05-18 / Front Page

Company plans pellet mill in Sanford

Senior Staff Writer

SANFORD — A company that plans to turn sawmill residue into wood pellets for heating fuel to be sold throughout New England is poised to establish itself in Sanford. The owners say they plan a 24/7 operation with as many as 25 employees.

T & D Wood Energy, made up of the father-and-son team of Dean and Tony Wood, got a warm welcome from Sanford City Council on Tuesday. They’re a new company but one with history — they are the fourth and fifth generation of F.E. Wood and Sons in Baldwin, a company that owned a sawmill and pallet mill for 130 years but ceased operations in the early 2000s, said Tony Wood.

He pointed out that sawmills are growing, and with  fewer paper mills operating, there is less of a market for the residue.

Pellet manufacturing will change that, and be good for both types of business, Wood said.

“We’ve been looking for the right place and conditions,” said Wood. “The right place is here in Sanford.”

The company will purchase property from Pleasant River Lumber on New Dam Road for the pellet manufacturing plant. They will contract with Pleasant River Lumber’s Sanford operation for their sawmill residue, as well as purchase from others, Tony Wood told the council.

He estimates the cost of the project at $5.7 million, financed with the help of the Small Business Administration and SIS Bank.

“Your bank has done a great job in helping us feel welcome,” Wood told the council.

The Woods’ appeared before the council to get their blessing on a Community Development Block Grant application that if approved, would provide the company with $450,000 in working capital to go along with the owners’ personal assets.

The council put their stamp of approval on the application.

“That’s good news," said Councilor Joseph Hanslip, regarding the company coming to Sanford. 

Wood said if the grant is approved, T & D Wood Energy will  be able to ramp up quickly.

Dean Wood on Wednesday said the company hopes to be up and running this summer.

The Woods’ say the project will move forward even if they’re unsuccessful with the grant, but said if that is the case, they’ll take a more conservative approach.

The company received permits from the town of Baldwin a few years ago under their former name for a pellet operation there, but couldn't muster the financing, Dean Wood said. That project, which was larger than the planned Sanford operation, remains permitted, but that the company is focusing on the Sanford project.

“The byproduct market has been a big concern for us,” said Jason Brochu, an owner of Pleasant River Lumber, in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “We’ve lost some of these markets — we used to sell to paper mills, some to biomass — but that demand has shrunk.”

He said the company’s Sanford sawmill produces about 40,000 tons of residue annually, though not all of it it suitable for pellet manufacture.

“We’re excited about it,” said Brochu of the operation.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or twells@journaltribune.com.

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