Groundbreaking held for Iowa’s largest biodiesel plant

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Ground was broken on Tuesday, Sept. 5, in Algona, Iowa, for the state’s first 60-million-gallon biodiesel plant. Renewable Energy Group has partnered with East Fork Biodiesel of Algona in this project, taking a minority interest in the plant while also providing construction services. Construction is under way for the $70 million plant, and production is expected to begin in about 12 months.

The commercial-scale plant will use soybean oil as its primary feedstock. Construction plans also call for the development of a pre-treatment area for other types of feedstock, including animal fats or other oils. Overall, the project is expected to net about 100 jobs during the construction phase and more than 25 new jobs as the plant opens. Forecasted annual biodiesel sales for East Fork Biodiesel are $144.6 million.

“This groundbreaking signifies the beginning of a great partnership with Renewable Energy Group,” says Ken Clark, president of East Fork Biodiesel. “In about a year, we will be producing a renewable fuel that will help reduce this nation’s dependence on foreign oil, burns clean, and offers exciting opportunities for Iowa investors and the development of our local, state and national economies.”

Nile Ramsbottom, president and chief operating officer of REG, shares this enthusiasm. “Renewable Energy Group is proud to partner with East Fork Biodiesel to build Iowa’s largest biodiesel plant,” Ramsbottom says. “The construction of a commercial-scale, state-of-the-art and highly efficient plant will help move this state and this nation toward their goals of energy independence.”

The announcement comes on the heels of a successful initial private equity financing drive for REG and the announcement of key strategic partnerships in August 2006. This previous investment, and recent partnerships, is planned to create 496 jobs by 2010 in its network of plants nationwide and to market about 640 million gallons of high-quality biodiesel.