Willie Nelson headlines Grand Opening of expanded Oregon biodiesel plant
Super-Sizing of Oregon Biodiesel will trigger mandate
Having headlined the ground-breaking event last year, Superstar Willie Nelson headed back to Oregon’s first commercial biodiesel plant; this time to celebrate a zero-waste upgrade and expansion to a 5 million gallons per year capacity. The August 29 event showcased the latest state-of-the-art processing technology from Pacific Biodiesel Technologies LLC (a subsidiary of Pacific Biodiesel, Inc). Located in Salem, Sequential-Pacific Biodiesel LLC (SQPB) has been producing biodiesel locally since 2005, and the expansion has brought two recent additions: investor Jack Johnson, and a new oil collection trucking service, Encore Oils.
Other speakers featured on the dais included majority partner Bob King of Pacific Biodiesel, Inc., partner John Miller (who emceed the event) Annie Nelson of the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, EPA Region 10 West Coast Collaborative Director Elin Miller, Congressional candidate Jeff Merkley, Jeff Keto of the Oregon Dept. of Energy, Mark Shipman of the Strategic Economic Development Corporation and General Manager Tyson Keever. All speakers elaborated on the appropriateness of the Oregon community-based model and the benefits it provides for the environment, the local economy and energy security. Around three hundred Oregonians turned out to celebrate the new plant, as well as to support the sustainability of local fuel production and meet Willie Nelson.
Public tours of the plant were led by its’ designer, engineer Will Smith of Pacific Biodiesel Technologies LLC. Smith touted the energy efficiency of the building, which meets almost all LEED environmental principles; as well as the 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 of 2008.
Popular Hawaii-based singer Jack Johnson and his wife Kim recently invested in SQPB, however he was unable to attend due to a concert performance scheduled at the same time in Irvine, CA. Wille Nelson and Jack Johnson were recently named the top two environmental musicians of the year by Billboard Magazine.
Dedicated to the community-based production model, SQPB began as a joint venture between Portland-based SeQuential Biofuels, Inc. and U.S. biodiesel pioneer Pacific Biodiesel, Inc. of Hawaii. SQPB’s expanded biodiesel facility is the anchor tenant in the 10-acre commercial/industrial site at the corner of Kuebler Boulevard and Turner Road in Salem. The property is owned by SQPB investor John Miller, an Oregon developer, who intends to attract other businesses to the site which reflect the theme of sustainability. Rounding out the SQPB ownership team are Oregonians Cameron Healy, founder of Kettle Foods and Kona Brewing Co. (on the Big Island of Hawaii); and Ron Tyree of Tyree Oil.
The Salem plant currently processes recycled cooking oil from restaurants and food processors such as Burgerville and Kettle Foods, into about a million gallons of biodiesel each year. In 2006, SQPB also processed 20,000 gallons of canola oil grown in Eastern Oregon. With the addition of Encore Oils for collection, and the expanded in-state canola production, General Manager Tyson Keever looks forward to stabile feedstock prices.
On July 12, 2006, Portland City Council voted to approve a citywide renewable fuels standard (RFS). The standard is effective July 1, 2007 and requires a minimum 5% blend of biodiesel for all fuel sold for vehicle use in the city limits. This City of Portland ordinance expands the annual market for biodiesel in Oregon from four million to eight million gallons per year. Additionally, a statewide RFS was included in Oregon’s Biofuels Bill (HB 2210) to mandate a statewide biodiesel blend. When in-state production reaches five 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 total of nearly twenty million gallons of biodiesel per year.