Franken on hand for biodiesel reopening, expansionPublished 5:58pm Saturday, August 24, 2013
GLENVILLE — U.S. Sen. Al Franken congratulated Renewable Energy Group Inc. Friday on the reopening and expansion of its plant near Glenville.
The upgrades allow the 30-million-gallons-a-year facility to make biodiesel from low-grade fats, oils and other natural resources that would normally take longer to refine.
“This facility exemplifies Minnesota’s renewable energy potential,” said Franken during a ceremony at the plant. “You’re helping our nation reduce its reliance on foreign oil.”
REG bought the plant in the summer of 2011 after SoyMor Biodeiesel LLC. suspended production in 2008 due to high prices for soybean oil. The plant, which had begun as a refined oil feedstock biorefinery — started up again in 2011, and construction began in August 2012. The $21 million in upgrades were completed in June of this year.
Franken said the beauty of the plant is it now does not rely on one type of feedstock. There is a fatty acid stripper, which allows the company to take any feedstock, strip fatty acid off and produce biodiesel with what is left over.
“We are very proud of this accomplishment in Albert Lea,” said REG Vice President of manufacturing Brad Albin.
Company President and CEO Daniel Oh said biodiesel enhances energy security, supports jobs and economic development, promotes food security and creates energy diversity.
It also provides cleaner air, lower carbon and facilitates both urban and rural revitalization, he said.
Oh said the company decided to move forward with the expansion because the community is committed to biodiesel and agriculture.
“Thank you for helping us do this,” he said.
During his comments, Franken, the chairman of the Senate subcommittee on energy, also voiced support for renewable fuel standards and for a five-year farm bill.
He said 1 out of 5 jobs in Minnesota is tied to agriculture.
“It’s absolutely vital we get a five-year farm bill and get it signed as soon as possible,” he said.
Following the comments, company officials and local leaders participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony. There were also brief tours of the plant.
REG is the nation’s largest biodiesel producer with a nationwide distribution and logistics system.
The company operates eight biodiesel plants and in 2012 sold about 20 percent of the country’s biodiesel production.
REG Albert Lea employs 24 workers and created 70 to 80 construction jobs during construction.