Friday, September 28, 2007

PA governor opens $15M biodiesel plant

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has been trying for months to convince state legislators to adopt his plan for a $500 million fund to help develop an alternative energy industry in the Commonwealth. (See: Energy: A hot topic in NJ, PA and NY )

Lawmakers are debating Rendell's plan and other energy proposals at a special session this week and on Wednesday, the governor was presented with a timely "photo op" to drive home the message.

Rendell called out "start your pumps" to launch operations at the new, $15 million Pennsylvania Bio Diesel plant in Potter, Beaver County.

"This is as important a plant opening as I've ever been to, probably as important as any of you've been to," Rendell told a crowd of more than 100 guests, vendors, potential clients and politicians. "Folks, you're looking at the future."

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that:
"Biodiesel, a renewable fuel produced primarily from soybeans, is growing rapidly in popularity. In 1999, about 500,000 gallons of biodiesel were produced nationwide. Last year, about 325 million gallons were produced. Primary users are trucking companies and farmers.

The governor's PennSecurity Fuels Initiative calls for companies to produce about 1 billion gallons of alternative fuel by 2017. It provides loan and grant incentives for biodiesel and ethanol producers, including a 5-cent per gallon reimbursement for the first 12.5 million gallons produced. "

Plant owner Patrick Copple will use a by-product of the biodiesel-making process--glycerin--to make grinding aids and additives for the concrete industry at Crete Technologies, Inc., a nearby plant that he also owns. He said he doesn't yet have a buyer for the biodiesel he'll be producing in a few weeks but he isn't worried. He thinks he'll be able to sell his cleaner-burning fuel for about the same cost as standard diesel and that should stimulate a sale.

A number of utilities, school districts and municipalities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have been using a mixture of biodiesel and regular diesel in their vehicles and have reported few problems with the zero-sulphur fuel.

New Jersey Natural Gas Co. is using a mix of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent diesel fuel to power 32 trucks and pieces of construction equipment, including backhoes and towed compressors. Public Service Electric & Gas began using biodiesel to power vehicles in its diesel fleet in 2003.

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