Northeast Biodiesel Co-op Underway

After five years in the planning and development stage, ground was broken on the Northeast Biodiesel and Co-op Power, a 1.75 million-gallon-per-year facility located in Greenfield, Massachsetts. Biodiesel production is expected to begin in January of next year.

The facility has been caught in limbo in the last couple of years due to the financial crisis. The collapse of large financial institutions sent the economy into a deep recession, causing banks to pull back and tighten their credit underwriting. Northeast Biodiesel originally sought loan capital from banks to complete the financing package needed for a five million gallon processor. Though area banks proved unwilling to make the start-up loans, the development of smaller processors at lower cost allowed the project to move forward with the capital invested by Co-op Power members and local investors.

Five years ago, the smallest manufacturing unit built to produce biodiesel fuel was a five million gallon per year processor. Today, processors are being built at lower cost and smaller volume. Northeast Biodiesel will begin fuel production with a single 1.75 million gallon per year processing unit, and plans to add a second unit to produce 3.5 million gallons per year in 2012.

Co-op Power owns the majority of shares in Northeast Biodiesel, which is an independent limited liability corporation. Co-op Power is a member-owned cooperative founded in 2005 to create community-owned renewable energy resources across the Northeast. Co-op Power invested $135,000 of its member equity in Northeast Biodiesel, which leveraged $1 million from 24 investors.

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