The group planning a $40-Million biodiesel plant at Wall Lake has cancelled the rest of the meetings in its equity drive, saying it’s raised all the money it needs already. Jim Venner, project manager for Western Iowa Energy, says they met their goal after only a third of the scheduled meetings were held. The eleventh meeting was the one at which they exceeded the goal, he says, adding a lot of investors came to the gatherings at county-seat towns in the region. Venner says planners saw a “tremendous amount of interest” from interested people, from farmers to main-street investors, and while the minimum investment they asked was 20-thousand dollars, many were interested in putting a great deal more than that into the project. He says interest in the proejct came from all over the state. He says the local response was “huge” in Sac, Crawford and Carroll counties but there was also interest from all over. “I would be surprised if we didn’t have a subscription from almost every county in the state.” Venner says after raising 22-Million dollars, they’re now in the process of negotiating with lenders to get the remaining 18-Million needed for the project. That means construction could begin within a month. If they can get everything put together in the next couple weeks, he says they could be producing bio-deisel by Christmas. Construction’s expected to take 9 months but he says if they can shorten that a little the plant could be in operation by December 25. Venner says the plant at Wall Lake will be unique in a couple of ways. When it’s up and operating it’ll be the largest one in the nation, he says, and the only one able to use a substantial amount of animal fat in the process. The plant will produce 30-Million gallons of bio-deisel a year and create twenty jobs. It began in February of 2004 as a value-added agriculture development effort of Sac County Rural Electric Cooperative.
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