New Biodiesel Production in North Carolina

The Grain Growers Cooperative, which has received start-up assistance from the Golden LEAF Foundation, has launched its biodiesel fuel business.

Zebulon, North Carolina – February 17, 2003 [] The cooperative has received a 20,000-gallon shipment of B-100 soy biodiesel — enough pure soy oil to produce almost 400,00 gallons of biodiesel fuel when blended at five percent with petroleum diesel. “This is a major step forward for the Grain Growers,” said Valeria Lee, President of the Golden LEAF Foundation, “and will allow them to test the market and potential demand for soy biodiesel in North Carolina while they proceed with plans to build their own production plant. The Foundation has a strong interest in helping develop Renewable Energy sources that also will boost our state’s agricultural sector. We are prepared to invest up to US$10 million in construction of a biodiesel fuel facility here, and we look forward to reviewing the Grain Growers Cooperative’s final business plan.” Golden LEAF said it would help fund a biodiesel plant last summer when it announced a US$85.4 million economic stimulus package. The Foundation’s role will be as investor. Its decision to invest came after in-depth feasibility studies and due diligence. Sam Lee, Chief Executive Officer of the Grain Growers Cooperative, said the soy biodiesel traveled two weeks by train from West Central Soy, an Iowa farmers cooperative founded in the 1930s. Potter Oil Company in Aurora, North Carolina, received the soy diesel and will begin marketing it at various blend levels from two to twenty percent, as well as use it in the company’s own delivery trucks and tankers. “Potter Oil had extra storage capacity and was prepared to start marketing soy biodiesel in its area,” said Lee. “That was the perfect combination for us. Now that we have product accessible, we can increase our efforts to find other fuel companies across the state that want to add soy biodiesel to their product line.” “The public benefit in this project can be tremendous,” said Golden LEAF President Valeria Lee. “Hundreds of farmers all over the state will have another market for their soy beans, and the increased demand could boost prices. They also will have an opportunity to share in profits produced by the sale of value-added products — primarily soy biodiesel fuel.” She said that the Grain Growers proposed soy biodiesel facility – which will cost approximately US$40 million and include both a soy bean extraction plant and a soy diesel refining plant — would create jobs and raise the tax base substantially in the county where it is located. The Grain Growers Cooperative has not yet decided the location. Although the two percent and five percent blends of soy biodiesel fuel cost slightly more than diesel, many farmers prefer it because it is a better lubricant, extends the life of their machinery, and reduces maintenance costs. “There are many pluses, and North Carolina farmers understand and appreciate them. We are getting a lot of calls,” said Lee. “Soy biodiesel is more environmentally friendly, and soy diesel, unlike petroleum diesel, is a renewable resource and biodegradable. It is better on farmers’ equipment and has less odor.”
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