A B.C. company plans to start construction this summer on an $85-million plant in Parkland County that will produce wood pellets as a greener form of fuel.

Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc. intends to build the facility near the CN Rail line outside Entwistle, 100 kilometres west of Edmonton, according to a news release.

It will be the first plant the Richmond, B.C.-based company has put up in Alberta and is expected to employ about 70 people when it starts operating next spring.

The high-heat, low-ash pellets are typically burned for home, institutional or industrial heating, used for animal bedding or turned into fuel for electricity generation. One of Pinnacle’s biggest clients is Britain’s largest single-site coal power plant, which brings them in to cut its greenhouse gas emissions.

The pellets are made from compressed wood waste often treated as garbage.

Mark Edwards, the county’s director of economic diversification, said the development is important.

“Entwistle is a central point that has access to raw materials, good transportation and the rail line out. It’s the centre of a good hub,” he said, adding supplies will come from several wood processing facilities in the vicinity.

“Having major industry moving into that area is a positive in terms of job growth and economic activity … Also, it reinforces our focus on economic diversification.”

In a March presentation to the county, privately owned Pinnacle described itself as the world’s second-largest producer of wood pellets, with seven facilities in B.C. that put out a total of 1.5 million tonnes or 15,000 rail cars annually.

The company has bought 30 hectares one kilometre east of Entwistle. The plant will cover six hectares and is expected to produce 475,000 tonnes of pellets a year, which will be shipped by rail to the Pinnacle port in Prince Rupert.

It will use sawdust, shavings, bark, treetops, branches and non-economical trees now either landfilled, stockpiled, or burned.

Even under the worst conditions, the company says the plant will meet Alberta air quality objectives.

Pinnacle and the county will share the cost of a new road to the site to deal with community traffic concerns.