Florida Biodiesel Plant Set to Go On Line

John Davis

The first biodiesel plant in Southwest Florida could soon go on line… although some of its first fuel will be sold a loss.

The Fort Meyers News-Press reports
that a site for FL BioFuels LLC’s three-million-gallon-a-year plant should be picked in the next couple of weeks, and one of its first customers will get a substantial discount on the fuel it buys:

The plant is capable of producing 3 million gallons of biodiesel in its first year, said Roy Benton Jr., one of the company’s four owners, and that could bring in more than $5 million. As a result, FL BioFuels’ owners hope doing business with Lee County will pay off.

The county agreed in April to give the company $500,000 from a government grant for the plant. The commission is expected to discuss the grant and biodiesel at its meeting Tuesday.

FL BioFuels is contracted to produce 500,000 gallons of biodiesel a year for the county’s vehicles. The company was required to match the approximately $1.60-a-gallon price the county pays for its truck fuel. The company’s owners say the venture will cost them money because their biodiesel is about $1 more expensive per gallon, costing them about $500,000 per year.

“It’s not a big contract with the county,” Benton Jr., said. “What is does is give us tremendous credibility.”

The feedstock for the biodiesel will be leftover restaurant grease, which is why one of FL Biofuels’ owners… the owner of a Hooters franchise… is involved. Plus, the county is currently buying biodiesel from Malaysia, which clears rain forests to grow the palm oil for its biodiesel.

When it is opened, it will be Florida’s third biodiesel plant.