The place to be

Published 8:31 am Thursday, January 27, 2011

As America moves forward in an effort to lessen its dependency on fossil fuel, in particular foreign oil, it appears that tiny Hertford County is doing its part to usher in this wave of technology.

Enviva LP is investing in excess of $50 million in the conversion of the old Georgia-Pacific plant in Ahoskie to house a facility that produces wood pellets as an alternative energy source for coal.

Duke Energy has acquired from SunPower the rights to a solar energy farm that will use 37 acres just east of Murfreesboro to produce six-plus megawatts of electricity harnessed from the sun. That investment is worth millions as well.

In both cases, officials from two large corporations saw ample potential in Hertford County for things we, as citizens, take for granted – our abundant supply of natural resources.

While most would think of Hertford County and the Roanoke-Chowan region as nothing more than a bump in the road that people use to access the famed Outer Banks of North Carolina to our east, the greater Hampton Roads area, complete with its retail outlets and job opportunities to our north, and a growing Greenville market to our south, we have proved there’s much more here to offer than meets the eye.

In the case of both new companies investing in Hertford County, we have just what they’re seeking –plenty of timber to supply a wood pellet processing plant and wide open spaces that invite the sun’s natural energy.

Additionally, the Enviva project will prove to be a huge shot in the arm to local timber owners and logging operations, each struggling for a place to sell and harvest that product since the closure of the International Paper mill in nearby Franklin, Va.

And, most of all, the presence of two renewable energy operations in Hertford County will kick the door wide open for others to follow.

The secret is out….Hertford County is the place to be.

– The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald