Plant aims to get fat on fuel production

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Another multimillion-dollar renewable fuel company is poised to settle in Clovis.
An $80 million facility that would turn animal by-products into fuel is likely to become the second tenant of the Clovis Industrial Park, Clovis Industrial Development Corp. officials announced Thursday.

CIDC Executive Director Chase Gentry said he is “90 percent certain” the plant will operate at the industrial park.

“CIDC continues to work to provide good, clean industry with high-paying positions,” CIDC President Lee Malloy said.

Malloy said the company would turn fat from cattle into fuel.

This, he said, is “an industry that doesn’t consume our natural resources.”

CIDC officials would not disclose the name of the biodiesel company interested in Clovis, citing confidentiality agreements.

Negotiations with CIDC, the city of Clovis and the unnamed company will likely bleed into February or March, Gentry estimated.

The Clovis Industrial Park contains more than 200 acres of land near the BNSF Railway in southwest Clovis.

Another biodiesel company — ARES Corp. — sealed negotiations to become the first tenant of the park earlier this year. Construction of a $15 million ARES biodiesel plant is slated to begin in February, Malloy said.

CIDC officials estimate construction of the ARES plant will be complete in about 18 months.

Combined, the plants will generate at least 40 direct, high-wage jobs and 80 in-direct jobs, according to a CIDC publication.

The ARES plant will produce 15 million gallons of alternative fuel annually from refined soybean oil as feedstock, delivered by rail. The soybean oil will be processed with methanol and glycerin at the plant.

Biodiesel is blended with regular diesel for retail sale, according to an ARES official, Gerry Runte.

The ARES plant may eventually use rapeseed, in addition to soybean oil, to create fuel, Gentry said.

“That’s not set in stone,” he added.

According to a CIDC publication, the cultivation of rapeseed for the ARES plant could create a niche for local farmers as the plant requires little water to grow.

CIDC is seeking $2.5 million from the state to plan, design, construct and equip the Clovis Industrial Park. The funds would be used to install mainline switches and tracks, roads, sewer and water lines, and utilities at the park, according to a CIDC publication.