[news forwarded by Mark Stechbart]
Published: Monday, April 13, 2009
Snohomish County's next phase in biodiesel plan is new seed crusher
By Noah Haglund <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
EVERETT -- Snohomish County's plan to dry and store canola seed for biodiesel production is chugging along, despite a tanking alternative-fuels market.
A 24-ton machine that crushes canola seed is expected to arrive any day. Next month, the county's public works staff hopes to test the machine by smashing leftover seed into oil. If that goes well, it should be ready for the fall harvest.
"I think the project's going forward," Councilman Dave Somers said. "It's still going to be good for us."
Biodiesel is a cleaner-burning version of petroleum-based diesel. It can be made from a variety of vegetable oils, including corn and rapeseed, which is commonly known as canola.
In September, the county unveiled a $1.2 million* <http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20090413/NEWS01/704139948#correx> center at Cathcart for the project, part of a plan to support local farmers and help switch the county over to more renewable energy.
The county also secured a $500,000 grant last year from the Washington State Department of Community Trade and Economic Development to buy the crusher. In August, the County Council approved a $464,000 bid from Whole Energy Fuels Corp. of Bellingham to procure the equipment, install it and train county employees to use it.
The machinery was supposed to be in place in February, but the company missed the deadline because it couldn't make a final $68,000 payment to the manufacturer, Insta-Pro International of Des Moines, Iowa. To avoid losing the grant, the County Council on April 1 voted to make the final payment directly to the manufacturer and to subtract that amount from Whole Energy's original contract.
The crusher is to be housed at Cathcart instead of another location in the Stanwood area because of concerns that the canola seed would cross-contaminate cabbage seed, county public works director Steve Thomsen said.
Whole Energy CEO Atul Deshmane said the county's payment helped his company with near-term cash-flow. Whole Energy has been waiting for payments from many of its own business partners hit by the overall economy and a plunge in commodity prices, Deshmane said.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, email@example.com.