Sun Power Biodiesel awarded financial aid

By Bryan Sims
Posted Aug. 25, 2010

Sun Power Biodiesel LLC will be the recipient of more than $1 million in financial assistance for equipment and infrastructure upgrades at its 3 MMgy plant in Cumberland, Wis. The news was made public by Commerce Secretary Aaron Olver on behalf of Gov. Jim Doyle as part of his eighth annual Up North tour in Cumberland.

The funding package includes $800,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds provided to Sun Power Biodiesel through Wisconsin's State Energy Program. The state is also awarding a $349,825 Community Development Block Grant-Public Facilities for Economic Development grant to the city of Cumberland aimed to help pay for infrastructure investments including water mains, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, street construction, electric installation and lighting.

The funds will be a boon for Sun Power Biodiesel as it will also provide additional working capital to sustain operations. According to CEO Ron Ruppel, the funding for the Sun Power Biodiesel project is in the form of a seven-year low-interest loan, which is expected to create 31 jobs over five years of the loan and retain four.

"The terms of the loan are favorable," Ruppel said. "It will help encourage some additional private investment in our facility, which we want to expand to 5 MMgy over the course of the next three years."

Sun Power Biodiesel, a subsidiary of Wisconsin-based Ardisam Inc., a designer and manufacturer of outdoor products, was formed in 2005. Since its start-up in 2008, Ruppel said the facility has endured intermittent operations due to the RFS2 implementation changes this year and modifications to ASTM standards. "Add the lapse of the $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax credit, we've only ran the plant eight months out of the last two years," Ruppel added.

Among specific upgrades Sun Power Biodiesel intends to implement are to install new technologies that will help augment acid esterification units and also add a methanol distillation system. "Eventually, we would also like to add a distillation tower as well," he said. "Those are the three technologies that we're targeting in the next three to five years."

Originally designed to use canola as feedstock, Sun Power Biodiesel's plant now uses mostly yellow grease.

"We're very blessed to have this [funding] opportunity," Ruppel said. "We'll make the most of it to grow our business."
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