State biodiesel firm

Tonya Garner: CNJ Staff Writer

An alternative fuel business is considering the Clovis Industrial Park as a possible location for a biodiesel plant.

Energy Conversion Corp. of Santa Fe is holding a meeting today at the Chamber of Commerce for parties interested in investing in the company, according to Chase Gentry, executive director of the Clovis Industrial Development Corp.

Gentry said the biodiesel fuel company has been working with CIDC and local resident Carolyn Spence over the last few months.

The company plans to begin construction in the next six to eight months, according to an e-mail sent by Spence to the CNJ. She said contracts for sale of the fuel from the proposed plant are already in negotiations.

Calvin Hildebrand, ECC consultant, will be hosting the informational meeting.

“I have been talking with Clovis people for four months,” Hildebrand said. “I have several farmers who have shown interest.”

The consultant said the proposed plant would produce 13.2 million gallons of biodiesel fuel annually and would employ eight to 10 people.

“It’s not a large plant,” Spence said. “But it’s the start of a new industry for Clovis.”

Hildebrand said they chose Clovis for a “multiplicity of reasons.” He said some of these reasons are that Clovis needs new industries regardless of what happens with Cannon Air Force Base and fuel costs need to be stabilized for local farmers.

Biodiesel is a clean-burning alternative fuel which is produced from renewable resources and can be used in any engine equipped to run on diesel fuel, Hildebrand said. Proponents also say biodiesel decreases dependence on foreign oil and contributes to the local economy.

Hildebrand said the fuel plant would use cotton seed, sunflower and canola oil to produce fuel.

One New Mexico company is already in the process of utilizing this alternative fuel. Public Service Company of New Mexico is currently switching its diesel vehicles to biodiesel fuel derived from vegetable oil. Eddie Padilla, PNM vice-president, said they have already purchased 53,000 gallons of the fuel this year. The company projects using about 240,000 gallons annually beginning in 2006.

Hildebrand said the biodiesel company is an environmentally sensitive company.

“The fuel we produce is non-flammable and not classified as hazardous,” Hildebrand said. “We will be good neighbors.”