A new use for an old plant
A Klamath Falls company that signed a $1.6-million purchase contract for a used chemical processing plant will transform it into the largest biofuels production facility in Oregon and California.
Evergreen Biofuels officials announced the purchase Tuesday and gave a tour of the building and its 11-acre site off Greensprings Drive.
Company President Eric Anderson said the facility wou d bring about 40 family-wage jobs to the Basin when it is at full operation. The plant is expected to open in January or February 2008. Ethanol production could begin in the summer of 2008.
About 22 million gallons of biodiesel a year, worth about $70 million-$75 million in product, will be produced after the plant is retrofitted, Anderson said.
“It has to happen now,” said Harold Hartman, a company board member and Klamath Basin farmer. “We’re at a little different stage than in the past.”
Everg reen Biofuels star ted more than a year ago when Anderson began to look into biofuel production in the Klamath Basin. He recruited several people to help start the company and garnered the support of county and city officials.
The 22,000-squarefoot pla nt or ig ina lly opened in 1993 and was used produce ferric sulfate, a chemical used in water treatment systems. The plant closed a little over two years ago.
A nderson sa id the building will require about $ 2.3 million in retrofitting, including installing a centrifuge, fermentation tanks and a distilling coil, but much of the building is already suited for biofuel production.
A spur already connects the plant to rail lines for easy transport and two 8,000 -gallon processor ta n ks a nd three 38,000-gallon storage tanks already occupy the building.
“It’s amazing how much of this plant is adaptable to biodiesel,” said Dan Golden, a member of the Klamath County Biofuels Advisory Committee.
When it first opens, the plant will produce biodiesel from soybean oil purchased from Cargill and shipped by rail. Anderson said he hopes Klamath Basin growers will plant canola or other oil seed crops, which he would then buy for biodiesel production.
Growers also could benefit when ethanol production starts, he said. The plant would produce ethanol from potatoes and sugar beets, which use less water than corn or grain. The distiller’s grain by-product could be sold to ranches and dairies.
“If the farmers want to grow it, we’ll buy it,” Anderson said.
Local of f icials are throwing heavy support behind the venture, with the city backing economic development bonds.
T rey Senn, executive director of Klamath County Economic Development Association, called the project as another step toward sustainable energy and industry in the Basin, and Golden lauded its benefits to the agricultural community.
The company is securing financial backing for the retrofit and environmental studies and inspections. The retrofit is expected to take several months, but production could start after the first two months, Anderson said.