REG celebrates reopening of Seneca plant

By Erin Voegele | July 13, 2010
Posted Aug. 11, 2010

Renewable Energy Group Inc. will celebrate the grand reopening of its Seneca, Ill-based biodiesel plant on Aug. 12. The 60 MMgy facility was acquired by REG in April after its original owner, Nova Biosource Fuels Inc., filed for bankruptcy.

According to REG President and COO Daniel Oh, the facility had been idle for more than a year. "Since we acquired the property in April, we've been through a really detailed inspection, renovation, retrofit and repair/upgrade program," he said. "The facility is, by design, generally as you'd expect, but we've made a lot of operational and other improvements as we've moved along."

The facility includes three side-by-side 20 MMgy biodiesel processing units, a technical grade glycerin refining facility, raw material and finished product storage, and railcar and truck unloading and loading. There is also potential for barge transportation. "One of the excellent things about this facility is that it produces a technical grade glycerin that is roughly 98 percent pure," Oh said, noting that REG Seneca LLC is REG's only facility capable of producing refined glycerin. "This was a large investment for us, and one of the features that mattered to us was this capability," he continued.

To date, 38 full-time employees have been hired to work at the Seneca plant. "They are excellent jobs," Oh said. "In general, I describe them as family-wage, green collar, skilled positions." The population of Seneca approximately 2,000, so the reopening of the plant is expected to have a significant impact on the local economy. Oh also notes that additional jobs will be added as REG continues to bring production online at the facility.

Feedback from the local community has been very positive, Oh said. "The local village leadership, the business community, and the folks that did business with the plant previously have all recognized that REG is an excellent business partner and have been supportive of us as we've moved in," he said. Oh also noted that the state of Illinois has been very supportive of the biodiesel industry. "The support that [the state] has provided though the sales tax abatement has continued to support the industry and provide an outlet for product, and probably more importantly create a great biodiesel infrastructure for distribution and sales," Oh continued. Biodiesel produced at the facility will also aid Chicago in reducing air emissions. "The city is very focused on that, as was the state [of Illinois] as we interacted with them on this facility´┐ŻWe're excited to get this plant up and running, making and selling product."

Thursday's grand reopening festivities will include several speakers, as well as tours of the facility and networking opportunities. At approximately 8:30 a.m., REG will celebrate the first load of biodiesel sold at the facility. The event will officially kick off at 10:00, with comments from REG CEO Jeff Stroburg, state congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, representatives of the Illinois governor's office and Illinois Farm Bureau, as well as several other local politicians and business leaders.
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