GP investing $400M in Brewton plant

Published 12:21 am Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Georgia Pacific officials confirmed this week its plans to invest $400 million into a new boiler at its Brewton plant that will make the facility energy independent.

Local plant manager Jeff Joyce made the announcement at the Brewton Rotary Club’s meeting. The project will likely begin in 2016 and is expected to bring a number of people to the area for the construction phase.

“This is a huge investment for our future,” Joyce told members. “This is a long-term, state-of-the-art project that is unparalleled in North America.”

The Brewton GP plant produces two products – white top consumer board that is seen on items such as pizza boxes, and SBS, which is used as high-end cosmetic packaging. The plant employs more than 450 people. Final approval for the project rested with the company’s corporate officials, and local employees were told last Wednesday of its approval, Joyce said.

There are many facets to the project, he said. In addition to a new boiler installation, funds will be used to construct a new centralized control room and to install other energy-saving measures.

“This investment will help us make gains in industry marks,” Joyce said. “It will help Brewton ‘catch up’ to other GP plants and make it more competitive overall. This mill is one that is in need of some upgrades to bring it in line with current technology, and this project will do that and take us to that playing field.

“And additionally, we buy a tremendous amount of power from Alabama Power,” Joyce said. “When this project is complete, what it will do is, instead of us purchasing energy, it will allow us to be energy self-sufficient.”

Work on the project is a “complex process” and will call for a significant labor presence in the area, Joyce said. And while the project won’t add additional long-term GP employees, Joyce said he could not speculate on the number of additional contractor workers.

“What I can say is that this will be an 18-month project,” he said. “It will take a while to ramp up, but we should be ready to start in early 2016.”

Joyce said community support was vital in bringing the project to fruition.

“Community support was vital,” he said. “We couldn’t have moved forward without it.”