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    Greenleaf Biofuels' New Haven biodiesel plant nearly complete

    NEW HAVEN — Eight months ago, local legislators shoveled the first piles of dirt for the groundbreaking of Greenleaf Biofuels, and on Thursday they were back for a tour of the nearly complete plant that could be the largest biodiesel facility in New England.

    The plant, expected to be open and functional in September, is located at 100 Waterfront St., where there is easy access to rail lines and the port.

    “Eight months ago … everything was just a plan on paper. (Now) much of this is a reality,” said Greenleaf owner Gus Kellogg. “And we are on time with the project and on budget, which is a difficult thing to achieve.”

    Greenleaf, founded in 2004, has headquarters in Guilford.

    Aldermen Sal DeCola, D-18, and Brenda Jones Barnes, D-13, state Sen. Ed Meyer, D-Guilford, and State Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, toured the 8,600-square-foot building Thursday. The cavernous building, with high slanted ceilings and a cement floor, was several degrees cooler than the sun-soaked outdoor space at the facility and Kellogg said it now has about a quarter of the equipment it will have when it is complete.

    Standing among sparse equipment in the room, Kellogg gestured to an office guarded by fire safety glass.

    “A lot of the process is moderating computer screens and understanding how the materials move through the plant,” he said.

    The plant will produce 10 million gallons per year of biodiesel, a cleaner-burning renewable energy source made from used cooking oil and other types of recycled vegetable oil and animal fats. Continued...

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    Kellogg said biodiesel started out mostly being created from soybean oil, but Greenleaf will generally use cooking oil and waste grease. Once it is produced, chilled and purified, biodiesel can be blended with diesel, typically in a 5 percent to 20 percent blend as a direct substitute for No. 2 heating oil.

    “We are thrilled that this facility is located here because we see it in many ways as the cutting edge wave of future energy projects,” said Looney. “Biodiesel is an exciting opportunity and we hope it will grow and expand. It is a clean and safe energy source that will help us move toward energy independence.”

    According to the U.S. Department of Energy, compared with regular petroleum diesel, biodiesel substantially reduces tailpipe emissions from diesel engines. Biodiesel is also non-toxic, so there would not be as much environmental damage if it were to spill.

    “The intent is for the biodiesel to be produced locally and remain in (the state) but because of market requirements … we may have to send some to New York,” said Kellogg.

    Local and state legislators lauded another benefit of the local plant: green job creation. Since the groundbreaking, three employees have been hired and the company just made offers to three additional people. The goal is to hire up to 20 full-time employees. The indirect jobs created by the project, such as construction jobs and manufacturing, were estimated to equate to 35 full-time equivalents.

    “Greenleaf’s expansion in New Haven means new jobs in our community,” said DeCola. “It’s a tough economy right now and we need to keep growing jobs to help middle-class families make ends meet.”

    Kellogg said the cost of the project has not been disclosed and it is funded by a combination of some public, but mostly private funds.

    “Despite a challenging economy, New Haven continues to lead the state and region in job and grand list growth,” said Mayor John DeStefano Jr. in a statement. “Greenleaf Biofuels is a great part of that success story, growing good local jobs as they expand their successful business.”

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