Southern Company said its $500m biomass power plant in Texas has started commercial operations and is delivering electricity to the grid.

The company stated the 100MW facility near Sacul is the largest biomass plant in the US and will be owned and operated by its affiliate Southern Power, which bought the project from American Renewables in October 2009.

Austin Energy will procure the plant’s output under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

Southern Company president, chairman and CEO Thomas A. Fanning said, "This is an important milestone for the community, the city of Austin and Southern Company, as the plant provides jobs and economic impact for Nacogdoches County and further diversifies the fuel portfolios of Austin Energy and Southern Company to strengthen our nation’s energy independence."

The plant, on which construction commenced in November 2009, employs latest technology and consists of a bubbling fluidized-bed boiler that will allow the use of a wide range of biomass fuels and keep emissions low, Southern said.

The Nacogdoches generating facility will be fueled by non-merchantable wood waste including wood-based biomass fuels like saw mill or other wood mill production waste, forest waste, pre-commercial thinnings of cultivated trees.

Southern Company expects that the new 165-acre plant will result in millions of dollars in economic growth through indirect and direct job creation and taxes for Nacogdoches County.