By Jacksonville Business Journal

Rayonier Inc. will sell wood waste to a planned 100-megawatt biomass plant in Gainesville for an undisclosed amount.

The Gainesville Renewable Energy Center, which has a 30-year contract to sell electricity to Gainesville Regional Utilities, will begin operating in December 2013. The utility will save between $212 million and $492 million on the open energy market through the biomass contract if carbon emission regulation is passed, according to published reports.

⿿The use of biomass fuels promotes sustainable forest management practices, which will help ensure local and regional forest health in the future," said Josh Levine, manager of the GREC project. ⿿Biomass plants like GREC also stimulate the local economy by creating a market for harvest residues and trimmings which would have been open-burned or left in the forest.⿝

About two-thirds of the stateâ¿¿s renewable energy generation comes through burning wood waste to boil water, producing steam to power turbines, Alan Hodges, a University of Florida agriculture economist, said previously. The sulphur-free process produces carbon emissions, but they are greatly reduced though the life cycle of trees, which process the carbon dioxide.

Rayonier (NYSE: RYN), a real estate and timber company based in Jacksonville, employs about 290 in the area.

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