Naheola Mill Biomass Project
Pennington, Ala.
Best Projects

Owner: Georgia-Pacific Co. LLC Consumer Products
General Contractor: TIC – The Industrial Co.
Lead Designer: Kiewit Engineering Group Inc.
Fuel Yard Designer: Bruks Siwertell

Multiple levels of planning proved critical to designing and constructing a 550,000-lb-per-hour biomass-fueled boiler and accompanying steam turbine generator within an operating pulp and paper mill in just 25 months. The critical path ran through the facility’s boiler, so the project team began with the underground core, then worked outward toward other plant structures. Along the way, workers navigated a labyrinth of interconnecting conveyors, utility systems, equipment and structures, all with minimal disruption to mill operations.

Collaboration with the boiler supplier during preconstruction led to a modularized, easily transportable design that significantly reduced both work hours and welding needs.

After placing the first tier of steel in December 2017, however, it became clear that a night shift would be needed to maintain the tight schedule and regain time lost to an above-average amount of rain. By October 2018, the team had completed the first of 70 packages to be turned over for commissioning.

Despite close working quarters and the demanding schedule, safety remained paramount from start to finish. In addition to having all employees pledge to meet expectations of a site-specific safety plan, programs such as the Craft Voice in Safety and Dedicated Craft Safety Advisor fostered a proactive, peer-oriented approach to mitigating hazards. Through formal training and onsite coaching, employee observations of potential risks and unsafe work practices were quickly analyzed and acted upon, with training sessions geared toward specific topics of concern. Teamwide buy-in of this approach resulted in nearly 1.6 million contractor, engineering and subcontractor work hours without a recordable incident.

In addition, the project achieved a weld-reject rate of less than 1% by establishing higher standards in the testing booth, communicating expectations during an additional, welder-only new hire orientation and field support.

Completed on schedule and below budget, the project has made Naheola Mill a model of energy efficiency and environmental quality. Along with eliminating emissions from coal-fired generation units, the new system daily utilizes 700 tons of tree bark previously considered a waste by-product.

Naheola Mill is now one of Georgia-Pacific’s lowest-cost production facilities, providing a long-term platform for future cost-effective expansion.

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