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Biodiesel Plant Planned in Keokuk
Associated Press

Dubuque Telegraph Herald

January 6, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Associated Press and the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Dubuque Telegraph Herald.]

KEOKUK, Iowa (AP) - A biodiesel plant will be built along the Mississippi River in Keokuk, city officials announced Thursday.

A group, called Tri-City Energy, LLC, is a company comprised of Iowa business people. The project, which will be done in four phases, comes as local officials work to bring jobs and industry to the area.

Keokuk Mayor David Gudgel said the new plant reinforces those efforts.

"This announcement allows the opportunity for needed job creation in a growth area that has phenomenal economic potential," he said.

Four local investors, John Rothgeb, Wes Ames, Scott Piper and Gerald Moughler, have formed the company that will eventually crush and process soybeans at the plant.

"With the price of diesel becoming higher than a kite, we decided to look into doing a plant here in Southeast Iowa," said Rothgeb, Tri-City general manager.

The project will cost about $50.5 million, Rothgeb said.

Lowell Junkins, executive director of the Lee County Economic Development Group, said construction on the first phase of the project - a 5 million gallon biodiesel plant in a temporary location - is expected to begin Sunday and be in operation by August.

Construction on phase two - a plant that will purchase, process and crush soybeans to make soybean oil and soybean meal - is expected to begin in January 2007. Phase three construction, a 30-million gallon biodiesel manufacturing plant, is scheduled to start in March 2007, Junkins said.

The fourth phase will include the conversion of the original building in phase one to process animal fats, restaurant grease and other products that will be made into biodiesel to replace petroleum lubricants.

While as many as 62 jobs will be created during the construction of the plant, only about 12 will be retained after it's complete.

"There is no question that as we see international pressure on energy, it makes this investment more secure for investors and allows us to become a player as the United States becomes more energy independent," Junkins said.