Western Iowa Energy breaks ground

By | June 01, 2005
More than 200 people came out on a blustery Friday afternoon April 29 for the groundbreaking ceremony of Western Iowa Energy LLC (WIE) near Wall Lake, Iowa. Digging into the earth with ceremonial spades, members of the WIE board and their special guests signaled the beginning of the building phase for the 30 mmgy biodiesel facility.

"As soon as we break escrow, the construction process will begin moving ahead rapidly," said John Geake, chair of the WIE board. "Our goal is to be in production in December."

At press time in mid-May, WIE Project Manager Jim Venner told Biodiesel Magazine that site preparation was underway as the company continued to shore up project financing. "Things are about ready to take off," he said.

WIE conducted an extraordinary equity drive in March, raising more than $22 million in 11 days. Construction is conservatively estimated to take nine months, but WIE's design/build partner, Iowa-based Renewable Energy Group (REG), might be able to get the plant on line by the end of the year. "REG says they can do it in less than nine months-and we are hoping to shave just a little off that timeline and get it done by the end of the year," Venner said. "We're not sure that is completely realistic at this point, but it's something we're shooting for."

The plant will initially use virgin soybean oil, before adding multi-feedstock capabilities shortly after start-up. "With [animal fats], it's just a matter of adding the pretreatment processes in order to sort out those impurities," Venner explained. There are multiple poultry packing and rendering facilities near Wall Lake; Venner said poultry fat would be the company's preferred animal fat-based feedstock. "It's easier to work with and has fewer impurities [than some other renderings]," he said.
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