Western Iowa Energy will tie Minnesota for largest plant in the nation


With the capacity to produce 30 million gallons of renewable, clean-burning biodiesel a year, the Western Iowa Energy LLC biodiesel plant in Wall Lake, Iowa will be the state's largest biodiesel plant and one of the largest in the country.

Soybean farmers and agriculture leaders from around the state met in Wall Lake on Friday, April 29 to witness the groundbreaking ceremony for the $40 million plant. Western Iowa Energy, which hopes to begin operating by late December, will use mostly soybean oil to produce up to 30 million gallons of biodiesel a year. Organizers say about 20 percent of their biodiesel will be made from other feedstocks, such as vegetable oil and animal fat.

"The news is not just the size of this biodiesel plant, it's also that Western Iowa Energy is a model that shows how Iowa companies can work together to expand and promote a homegrown, environmentally-friendly product like soy biodiesel," said Delbert Christensen, a director on the Iowa Soybean Promotion Board and grower from Audubon.

Western Iowa Energy provided the location, capital and organizational structure for the new plant, he said. The organization received additional resources from the Renewable Energy Group, which is a joint venture of Todd and Sargent Company and West Central Cooperative. Todd and Sargent Co., an engineering firm in Ames, is designing and building the biodiesel plant, while West Central Cooperative is offering its technology, operational skills, and purchasing and marketing advice.

Additionally, West Central Cooperative will be given market access to sell Western Iowa Energy's biodiesel.

"Market access is very important to the biodiesel industry," Christensen said. "Terminals and users of biodiesel want a steady supply of high-grade fuel. Giving West Central market access to the new plant's product will allow the biodiesel to get to the end user in an efficient and economical manner. The Western Iowa Energy plant will truly be a win-win biodiesel plant for investors, as well as end users."

There are currently three biodiesel plants operating in Iowa--West Central in Ralston, Soy Solutions in Milford and AGP's plant in Sergeant Bluff. Iowa produces about 25 million gallons of biodiesel each year, and will increase to more than 50 million gallons when the Wall Lake plant begins production. There are 52 biodiesel retail-fueling sites and more than 350 biodiesel fuel distributors in the state.

For more information about soy biodiesel, please call Sarah Van Gorp at the Iowa Soybean Association at 800-383-1423 or go to the National Biodiesel Board's website at www.biodiesel.org. For information about the Iowa Soybean Association, go to its website at www.iasoybeans.com.

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