San Juan Bioenergy processes locally grown sunflower, safflower and canola for food-grade oils as well as animal feeds. Nothing is wasted in the processing; the agricultural waste, mainly sunflower hulls, stems and leaves, is converted to syngas, which fuels the plant’s boiler and gas generator – providing 100 percent of the process heat and 50 percent of the power needed for the facility. Waste heat from the process is also used in both the facility’s biodiesel production process and the greenhouse.
“This funding will help grow the development of renewable energy and protect jobs at a time when jobs need protecting,” Salazar said in a statement. “I’m glad to support this effort and I will continue to support efforts that help America develop renewable energy solutions and grow the economy of rural Colorado.”
By forming a relationship with farmers in Dolores County, which currently has the state’s highest unemployment rate at just over 18 percent, San Juan Bioenergy’s operation promotes agriculture and agriculture jobs as well as provides renewable fuels for a sustainable operation.
“We are really excited about this,” San Juan Bioenergy Chief Technology Officer Nathan Morris said of the funding, in an interview this week. “This grant will help pay for the renewable energy component of our facility. We’re the ideal company for whom this money is supposed to help. We began operations at the worst spot in this recession. This money is going to help us maintain jobs and create renewable energy opportunities in a county that needs employment. ”
As was the case with most businesses in the current economic recession, 2009 was a tough year for San Juan Bioenergy, but the company has now found a way to continue to grow and provide jobs.
“When we first started we had five operators, and now we have ten,” Morris said. “It has been an incredibly tough year, but we have made it through it – and have grown in the process. We really appreciate the help we got from our national [representatives.]”
Funding for the improvements come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus bill. Section 1603 of the Recovery Act appropriates funds for payments to persons who place in service-specified energy property. The Treasury Department makes Section 1603 payments to qualified applicants in an amount generally equal to 30 percent, or 10 percent of the cost basis of the property, depending on the type of renewable energy, once the property is placed in service.