Biodiesel group hopes mandate remains intact

Renewable Energy Group officials have been tracking a bill in the state Legislature that could have impacted the biodiesel manufacturer's decision to resume construction at its facility west of Clovis.

Senate Bill 374, which would repeal a state mandate that diesel contain 5 percent biodiesel, was scheduled to be addressed in a hearing on Tuesday, but Sen. Phil Griego, the bill's sponsor, removed it from consideration.

"We haven't made any decision on a timetable for finishing Clovis," Scott Hedderich, REG's director of corporate affairs, wrote in an e-mail. "But the Legislature's actions are certainly positive."

He added he'd be happy to sit down with legislators and address concerns they might have with biodiesel.

In 2010, REG acquired the unfinished plant, located on Curry Road 8, from ARES Corp. Hedderich said REG made some upgrades to the plant last year. It is too early to tell if REG will seek funds from state and local governments, but REG officials say they will have to invest up to $15 million to finish the plant.

"We acquired the plant in Clovis with every intention of building the plant," said Hedderich.

Hedderich said the biodiesel plant will create 15 to 20 direct jobs. It will also create an estimated 200 indirect jobs, including maintenance workers and truck drivers, as well as increase the demand for agricultural products such as beef tallow, which can be used to make biodiesel.

"It's a viable economic development industry for Clovis," said Chase Gentry, executive director of the Clovis Industrial Development Corp.

Portales also has a biofuel plant, although it has been shut down since December 2011. Abengoa officials cited a depressed market for closure, which they called temporary.

Doug Redmond, director of the Roosevelt County Community Development Corp., said getting the plant up and running again is not a priority.

"I don't believe it would have a large effect either way," Redmond said about the possibility of SB 374 being passed.

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