MeadWestvaco Corporation will invest $285 million to construct a new, state-of-the-art biomass boiler and upgrade associated power infrastructure at its facility in Covington.
The project allows the plant to become self-sufficient in energy production and significantly reduces ongoing operating and maintenance costs. The new boiler and related systems will replace two older and less cost-efficient fossil fuel units, and will primarily burn renewable biomass such as tree bark, wood residues often left behind from logging operations, and water treatment plant residuals.
“Renewable energy is an increasing priority today, and MWV’s new biomass boiler will use renewable resources as fuel, providing reliable, efficient and lower-cost sources to produce steam and electricity for the mill,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said.
“With this project, MWV is really investing in the future of its Covington mill,” said Jim Cheng, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “The plant is the world’s largest solid bleached sulfate mill, and this caliber upgrade will only increase the mill’s efficiency and output.”
Headquartered in Richmond, MeadWestvaco provides packaging solutions to many of the world’s most-admired brands in the healthcare, beauty and personal care, food, beverage, home and garden, and tobacco industries. The company’s businesses also include Consumer & Office Products, Specialty Chemicals, and the Community Development and Land Management Group, which sustainably manages the company’s land holdings to support its operations, and to provide for conservation, recreation and development opportunities.
With 17,500 employees worldwide, MWV operates in 30 countries and serves customers in more than 100 nations. MWV manages all of its forestlands in accordance with internationally recognized forest certification standards, and has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for the seventh consecutive year.
“Virginia is not only our corporate home, it is a major base of operations and gateway for our business around the world,” said John A. Luke, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of MWV. “We are making an investment to improve the competitiveness of our Covington mill so that it will continue to be a strong economic engine for our company and for the Commonwealth.”
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the City of Covington and the Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation to secure the project for Virginia. Governor McDonnell approved a $1 million performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Partnership program, an incentive available to existing Virginia companies.
“MeadWestvaco has been providing quality employment opportunities in Covington since 1899,” said Covington Mayor Robert K. Bennett, II. “Covington City Council is most appreciative of the company’s continuing commitment to our community.”