SANFORD, NC – Drug giant Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) is turning to alternative energy sources to help power its vaccine production plant.

The “biomass boiler,” which cost $7.9 million, officially went online Thursday morning at a dedication ceremony. The boiler will produce steam that is used to in turn generate electricity.

The company says wood and wood residue from North Carolina will be used to power the boiler.

According to Pfizer, the boiler will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and power costs.

Pfizer acquired the plant as part of its acquisition of Wyeth last year.

Earlier this week, Pfizer announced plans to acquire Triangle-based Icagen.

Since that deal closed, Pfizer has shut down a research and development operation in Sanford and announced plans to cut the workforce at the facility to 400 from 800 by 2015.

The company says the Sanford plant is becoming its “primary side for clinical and commercial launch supplies of new vaccines.”

The Sanford plant manufactures Preznar, a vaccine for a variety of multiple diseases in children.

Pfizer also operates two facilities in North Carolina as part of Pfizer Animal Health – the former Embrex labs in RTP and a former Embrex production facility in Laurinburg.

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