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Last updated 1:04AM ET
December 14, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Groundbreaking Set for Biodiesel Plant
(2007-09-06)
Bottom: An artists depiction of the San Juan Biodiesel facility near Dove Creek.
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: Ground will be broken and construction will begin Saturday on an ambitious bio-diesel plant project in Dolores County, near Dove Creek.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports:

VICTOR: Jeff Berman of Durango has been working for three years as general manager of San Juan Biodiesel.
His goal is to build a plant in the Weber Industrial Park just outside Dove Creek, to turn oil seed crops, such as sunflower, grown by area farmers, into bio-diesel and more.
He's contracted with 41 farmers from Alamosa to Price, Utah, to grow almost 11-thousand acres of crops.
And with 90-percent of the funds needed now in the bank from about 3 dozen private investors, grants and loans, ground will be broken Saturday for the plant.
BERMAN: WE NEEDED TO RAISE ABOUT FOUR AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS IN ORDER TO ACTUALLY BUILD THE PLANT AND PAY FOR THAT FIRST YEARS WORTH OF SEED CROP, WHICH IS GOING TO BE HARVESTED IN MID OCTOBER TO MID NOVEMBER.
The plant will actually consist of two buildings.
BERMAN: WE'LL ACTUALLY BE PRESSING SUNFLOWER IN THE FIRST BUILDING, WHERE WE'LL ACTUALLY GET THE SUNFLOWER OIL AND SELLING A GOOD PART OF THAT AS A HUMAN FOOD PRODUCT.
Sunflower oil not sold as food, will head to the second buildling to be turned into actual bio-diesel.
BERMAN: ONCE WE RAMP UP TO FULL PRODUCTION CAPACITY, WHICH WILL TAKE A NUMBER OF YEARS TO GET THERE, WE WILL BE PRODUCING ABOUT 5-MILLION GALLONS OF OIL, SUNFLOWER OIL, POTENTIALLY SAFFLOWER OIL AS WELL PER YEAR. AND THAT WILL TAKE ABOUT 120-MILLION POUNDS OF SEED EVERY YEAR. YOU GET ABOUT ONE THOUSAND POUNDS PER ACRE ON A NON IRRIGATED ACRE MEANING WE WILL NEED ABOUT 100 TO 120 THOUSAND ACRES IN ORDER TO ACTUALLY PRODUCE THAT FIVE MILLION GALLONS.
CARHARTT: I PRAY AND PRAY IT WILL GO. WE'VE BEEN HOLDING OUT BREATH FOR TWO OR THREE YEARS AND I THINK IT'S NOTHING BUT A VERY VERY POSITIVE THING FOR THE AREA.
Matt Carhart is a farmer near Dove Creek who has signed up to grow oil seed crops.
CARHART: IT'S NOTHING BUT GOOD, THE BEANS, THE WEATHER PATTERNS HAVE CHANGED AND THE BEANS JUST AREN'T TURNING OUT VERY GOOD ANYMORE. NOT ONLY WILL IT HELP THE FARMERS, OUR LITTLE TOWN, DOVE CREEK, IT WILL REALLY HELP IT. THEY'RE GOING TO EMPLOY "X" NUMBER OF PEOPLE AND I THINK AS IT GROWS THERE'S GOING TO BE MORE. THERE'S GOING TO BE A HECKUVA BYPRODUCT COME OUT OF THIS. I CAN'T SEE NOTHING BUT A WIN-WIN SITUATION OUT OF IT.
The Biodiesel plant is actually phase one of a three phase plan for the plant that goes beyond sunflower oil and biodiesel production. Berman says the plant will actually become what he calls an integrated bio-energy production facility.
BERMAN: IN OUR SECOND PHASE WE WILL ACTUALLY BE INSTALLING ELECTRIC POWER GENERATION TO GO WITH IT. SO WHAT WE DO IS REMOVE A PORTION OF THE SUNFLOWER HULLS, BURN THEM IN A GASIFIER, THE CLEANEST KIND OF COMBUSTION AVAILABLE, PRODUCE STEAM AND THEN USE THAT STEAM TO THEN RUN OUR PROCESSES, WE NEED HEAT, IN ORDER TO CRUSH THE OIL AND MAKE BIODIESEL. IN OUR SECOND PHASE, WE'LL ACTUALLY HAVE, ONCE WE RAMP UP SUNFLOWER PRODUCTION WE'LL ACTUALLY HAVE ENOUGH SUNFLOWER HULLS AND ENOUGH STEAM TO RUN A TURBINE AND THEN GENERATE OUR OWN ELECTRIC POWER. AND IN A THIRD PHASE WE PLAN TO BEGIN REPLICATING THIS INTEGRATED BIO-ENERGY PRODUCTION MODEL IN MORE LOCATIONS THROUGHOUT NORTH AMERICA AND POSSIBLY THE WORLD.
Berman expects the plant to be to full production in 5-to-7 years, and they hope to be making money within two years, employing up to two dozen people in the plant.
You can learn more online at sanjuanbiodiesel.com.
From KSUT, Four Corner's Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
NOTE: The groundbreaking ceremony is at 3pm Saturday afternoon, at the Weber Industrial Park outside Dove Creek. It is open to the public and a dinner will be served from 4 to 6 after the ceremonies.
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