Renewable Energy Group, Inc. celebrated Monday the completion of upgrades to its 30-million gallon nameplate biorefinery in Newton, Iowa, which allows the plant to produce an even higher purity biomass-based diesel from a wider variety of raw materials.
Iowa U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack and Mike Naig, Deputy Secretary of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, joined community and business leaders to mark the occasion. REG broke ground on the $13.2 million project in February and completed it in November, four months ahead of schedule and on budget.
In addition to the production process upgrades, a further $2.6 million was invested to expand storage capacity by 2 million gallons and enhance logistics, for a total investment of $15.8 million.
“Enhancing REG Newton’s distillation and processing capabilities strengthens our lower-cost, multi-feedstock biomass-based diesel business and provides customers with more fuel options both in the Midwest and nationwide,” said Daniel J. Oh, REG President and CEO. “This plant was already a high performing facility that deserved additional investment and I am confident the return on investment will be rapid.”
The project provides Newton with production capabilities similar to those at the REG Albert Lea biorefinery. The upgraded process, including distillation, removes impurities and leaves behind a very pure form of biomass-based diesel. The final product far exceeds industry quality standards, while meeting REG’s more rigorous REG-9000™ specifications. The fuel also performs better in colder temperatures.
REG Newton refinanced its original loan through a banking syndicate led by AgStar Financial Services to extend the term and help pay for the project. The refinancing provides an additional $5 million to fund the capital project and extends the maturity date by five years.
“These improvements allow REG Newton to provide customers with the highest quality end product at a full 30 million gallons a year utilization rate for a wide array of raw materials, including inedible corn oil,” said Brad Albin, REG Vice President, Manufacturing. “This increased feedstock flexibility drives demand for local feedstock suppliers, enabling them to keep their products in the region.”
Rep. Loebsack praised REG’s investment and commitment to advanced biofuels that lower greenhouse gas emissions and provide energy security and diversity.
“I applaud REG for their focus on innovation and economic development in Iowa,” said Rep. Loebsack. “The men and women they employ work hard every day to help produce biomass-based fuel. As a long time champion of the Renewable Fuel Standard, I will fight to make sure we never lose our focus on renewable fuels and to expand the renewable energy industry. I’m proud to represent REG who gives so much back to Newton and to our great state.”
REG now owns 10 operational biorefineries in six states, including two other Iowa plants in Ralston and Mason City. Based in Ames, the company is a leading North American advanced biofuel producer.