UMATILLA Sequential-Pacific Biodiesel hasn’t even finished expanding capacity at its Salem plant, and it is already looking into building another factory at the Port of Umatilla.
The port has received a $500,000 federal grant to develop a facility that would connect rural farmers with urban consumers who are willing to pay a premium for “Made-in-Oregon” fuel. Port of Umatilla general manager Kim Puzey is encouraging local wheat growers to use canola as a rotation crop to supply the plant. The biodiesel produced at the new plant could be blended into fuel barged upriver to meet new state requirements, as well as shipped down the Columbia River to Portland.
The City of Portland is already the only city in the nation with a contract in place guaranteeing local farmers a competitive price for canola. Kent Madison of Echo processes canola oil year-round for the city from grains harvested each July. But the oil Madison and other growers produce has to be trucked to the Sequential-Pacific plant in Salem to be processed. A local plant in Umatilla would cut transport costs and pollution by using river barges. It would also contribute to the rapid growth of Sequential-Pacific, a joint venture between Sequential Biofuels of Portland and Eugene and Pacific Biodiesel of Maui, Hawaii.
The 30-employee company completed Oregon’s first biodiesel plant in Salem in August 2005 and is already working to expand capacity from 1 million to 5 million gallons per year, in addition to building new fueling stations in Eugene and Portland.
“The market is really growing and we’re just trying to keep up with it,” says Sequential-Pacific’s plant manager, Tyson Keever.
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