A French firm and Santee Cooper are partners in a $140 million project in Allendale and Dorchester counties that now makes electricity using wood waste as fuel.

The effort generates 35 megawatts from facilities near Harleyville and Allendale. The power is fed into the state-owned utility’s transmission system under a 30-year power purchase agreement.

The project marks the first biomass venture in the U.S. for San Diego-based EDF Renewable Energy, an arm of French firm EDF Energies Nouvelles. It also operates wind and solar projects.

Both counties have reliable wood supplies for the “woody biomass” project which is expected to bring economic benefits to rural areas through the trucking and wood supply industries, according to a joint statement from the firms.

During construction, the facilities generated more than 250 construction jobs. They also created 38 full-time positions in some of the state’s most economically challenged regions.

The projects use a “well-proven” biomass design with a stoker boiler supplied by Factory Sales Engineering and a steam turbine generator supplied by General Electric. EDF Renewable Services will provide long-term operations and maintenance, officials said.

“Biomass is poised to be a key renewable base load energy resource for South Carolina and we are pleased to work with Santee Cooper on this excellent opportunity to produce economically attractive renewable energy,” said Tristan Grimbert, EDF president and CEO.

“Santee Cooper was the first utility in the state to deliver electricity to all our customers from new renewable resources 12 years ago,” said Lonnie Carter, Santee Cooper’s president and CEO.

“Today represents a new milestone for us and for South Carolina. The partnership forged with EDF Renewable Energy helps advance Santee Cooper’s role as the state’s leader in generating renewable energy,” he said.

Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711.