Willie Nelson headlines biodiesel bash

By Jerry W. Kram | August 08, 2008
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Web exclusive posted Sept. 3, 2008 at 10:30 a.m. CST

Entertainer and biodiesel booster Willie Nelson was back in Salem, Ore., on Aug. 29 to help celebrate the grand opening of Sequential-Pacific Biodiesel LLC's plant expansion. Nelson, who is an investor in the company, also headlined the groundbreaking for the expansion last year.

The Sequential-Pacific plant came on line in 2005 and was Oregon's first commercial-scale biodiesel plant. Sequential-Pacific Biodiesel expanded the facility's capacity to 5 MMgy and upgraded its manufacturing equipment with zero waste technology from Pacific Biodiesel Technologies LLC, a subsidiary of Hawaii-based Pacific Biodiesel Inc. The building meets almost all Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) environmental principles, incorporating a new waterless process method capable of recycling all excess methanol and purifying the waste glycerin to a commodity grade product. The plant is expected to reach full capacity in November.

In addition to Nelson, other featured speakers included majority partner Bob King of Pacific Biodiesel Inc., partner John Miller emceed the event, Annie Nelson of the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, EPA Region 10 West Coast Collaborative Director Elin Miller, U.S. Congressional candidate Jeff Merkley, Jeff Keto of the Oregon Department of Energy, Mark Shipman of the Strategic Economic Development Corp. and Sequential-Pacific Biodiesel General Manager Tyson Keever. About 300 area residents attended the plant's celebration. Popular Hawaii-based singer Jack Johnson and his wife Kim also recently invested in Sequential-Pacific Biodiesel, however he was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict. Rounding out the Sequential-Pacific Biodiesel ownership team are Oregonians Cameron Healy, founder of Kettle Foods; Kona Brewing Co. in Hawaii; and Ron Tyree of Tyree Oil.

The Salem, Ore., plant currently processes recycled cooking oil from restaurants and food processors, including Burgerville and Kettle Foods, into about a million gallons of biodiesel each year. In 2006, Sequential-Pacific Biodiesel also processed 20,000 gallons of canola oil grown in eastern Oregon.

In 2006, the Portland, Ore., city council approved a citywide renewable fuels standard (RFS). The standard was effective July 1, 2007, and requires a minimum 5 percent blend of biodiesel for all fuel sold for vehicle use in the city limits. The Portland ordinance expands the annual market for biodiesel in Oregon from 4 million to 8 million gallons per year. Additionally, a statewide RFS was included in Oregon's Biofuels Bill (HB 2210) mandating a statewide biodiesel blend. When in-state production reaches 5 million gallons per year using raw materials from the Pacific Northwest, the statewide RFS will take effect. The RFS will increase annual demand for biodiesel by approximately 10 million gallons, to a total of nearly 20 million gallons of biodiesel per year.
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