“Thumbs” Up for Michigan Biodiesel Plant

John Davis

A $65 million combination biodiesel-soybean crushing plant is being planned for the area of Michigan known as “the Thumb.”

Despite rising costs for soybean oil, Bill Moran thinks his Huron Biofuels plant proposed for near Elkton, MI can make a go of crushing soybeans and selling the feed to local dairy farmers while having the option of turning the oil into food or biodiesel. This story from the Bay City (MI) Times says it would be a one-of-a-kind facility for that area:

Right now, dairy and poultry producers in the Thumb get their high-protein animal feed, a byproduct of crushing soybeans, from a major processing facility in Zeeland, on the west side of the state.

A smaller soybean processor, Thumb Oilseed Producers Coooperative, is located in Ubly, but sells most of its soybean oil and meal for use in the food industry.

If the first phase of Moran’s biodiesel plant gets up and running, it could supply meal to the many large livestock farms in the Thumb, and sell the oil for use in food, depending on the market for biodiesel, [Keith Reinholt, field operations director for the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee] said.

The article goes on to say that Moran hopes to break ground in the spring of 2009 with eventual biodiesel production of 20 million gallons a year, starting in either 2010 or 2011. The project is expected to add $100 million to the local economy and 60 new, full-time jobs. Currently, another company sells biodiesel locally but gets the green fuel from out-of-state sources.