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Mohegan - The Mohegan Tribe has placed a bet on wood pellets.
The tribe, owners of Mohegan Sun, announced Wednesday that a tribal subsidiary has acquired an Ohio plant that produces the compressed bits of wood used in heating homes.
The subsidiary, Northeast Wood Products LLC, was registered in July with the secretary of the state.
According to a news release, Northeast has acquired a plant in Peebles, Ohio, from the Pennington Seed Co., as well as equipment and assets of a Pennington facility in Kenbridge, Va.
The subsidiary has also agreed to acquire Pennington's pellet production plant in Ligonier, Ind., the tribe said.
It is the second nongaming venture unveiled by the Mohegans in the past week. Last Friday, it announced it has signed a deal with a Harrisburg, Pa.-based restaurant chain to open at least 15 franchises in New England.
Under the agreement, the tribe is to open the first of the 15 Arooga's Grill House and Sports Bar locations off Route 32 in Uncasville, adjacent to Mohegan Sun.
Northeast's primary product - premium wood fiber pellets "featuring low ash and high BTU (British thermal unit) ratings - will be sold under the trade name ThermaGlo. The pellets will be available in 40-pound bags for home use, in bulk loads for industrial customers and in container shipments for international markets.
"With the purchase of Pennington's production assets, we are jump starting our entry into the wood pellet fuel market," said Guy Mozzicato, president of Northeast Wood Products.
Northeast expects to produce more than 130,000 tons of pellets annually at the Ohio and Indiana facilities, which the tribe said will be operating within the next 120 days.
"The Mohegan Tribe is happy to be involved in a venture that combines its overall philosophy of a reverence for the Earth with a solid business model," said Kevin Brown, the Mohegan tribal chairman. "The wood pellet venture creates fuel from a renewable resource. This is a very valuable addition to our growing portfolio of investments that is taking the tribe's economy in new and exciting directions."
Extreme cold generated high demand for wood pellets this past winter, depleting supplies in Connecticut and throughout New England.
Some homeowners burn the pellets to reduce their reliance on home heating oil, while others depend entirely on the heat from pellet-burning stoves.