Inland Empire Oilseeds begins biodiesel production

By Ryan C. Christiansen | November 13, 2008
Web exclusive posted Nov. 19, 2008 at 10:38 a.m. CST

Inland Empire Oilseeds LLC, an 8 MMgy biodiesel producer in Odessa, Wash., has begun producing biodiesel from canola. The company will ramp up production with hopes of reaching full capacity within the next few months, according to General Manager Steve Starr.

The company was formed three years ago, Starr said, adding that construction on the biodiesel production facility began in the fall of 2007. Inland Empire Oilseeds processes strictly canola oil feedstock and has begun construction for an oilseed crushing facility, which is expected to be operational by June 2009. Starr said the crushing facility will supply up to 50 percent of the canola oil needed for biodiesel production at the plant.

"Farmers already produce canola in the area and there are several growers who have been successful with it," Starr said. "Now, our role is to provide a local market and perhaps a little better pricing than what [farmers] have been able to get. This is primarily a wheat production area, but we're going to be communicating to farmers the advantages of putting canola into their rotation and we will work with them to refine their agronomic techniques so that they can get the best yields."

Starr said 80 interested farmers attended a meeting held in early November. "There are a number of elevator cooperatives that we'll be working through to generate canola within a couple-hundred-mile radius," Starr said.

Inland Empire Oilseeds is currently owned by Odessa Union Warehouse Cooperative, Reardan Grain Growers Inc., Reardan Seed Co. Inc. and Michael Dunlap. Green Star Products Inc., the plant's transesterification technology provider, became a partner with Inland Empire Oilseeds in August 2007. The venture is funded in part by a $1 million Energy Freedom Loan from the state of Washington through the Odessa Public Development Authority.
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