The City of Newton, Illinois, Jasper County, and St. Joseph Renewable Fuels, LLC announced plans to build a $400 million renewable diesel plant in Southern Illinois that envisions utilizing innovative technologies and a new health care protocol to test and certify a COVID-19 free workforce. The 40-acre site in Newton is within a federally designated Opportunity Zone, and is believed to be one of the largest projects proposed under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that was designed to revive economically distressed communities in the U.S..
Courtesy of NREL
“We plan to breathe new life into Newton by adding a major employer, creating good paying jobs and advancing green efforts, while delivering a healthy local workforce and community,” said Newton Mayor Mark Bolander. “This will be accomplished through the introduction of leading-edge solutions and the formation of new partnerships that can help us fight the COVID-19 outbreak.”
The environmental benefits of the St. Joseph Renewable Fuels facility are supportive of efforts to promote renewable fuels, protect the environment and reduce CO2. Additionally, the plant will bring new sources of renewable fuels to metropolitan, rural and underserved communities. The facility will consume waste fats and greases from a region spanning 1,000 miles around Newton, which would otherwise be landfilled or emptied into sewer drains. The plant will convert the waste into 90 million gallons of diesel and naphtha fuel annually, as well as seven million gallons of technical grade glycerin.
“The fuel production technologies licensed to us and being deployed at the proposed facility in Newton promote sustainable practices,” said Geoffrey Hirson, CEO of St. Joseph Renewable Fuels, LLC. “The benefits realized transfer to both the local and global environment by producing renewable, reduced carbon fuels using carbon neutral or net-carbon negative production methods.”
Bolander notes he quickly recognized the benefits of the ideas being suggested by the St. Joseph Renewable Fuels team. “We welcome a project of this magnitude because it is a game changer for Newton as an Opportunity Zone,” said Bolander. “It will bring jobs closer to where people live, and I’m confident we’re doing something positive to promote economic expansion and protect the health of our community. If we do this right, it will be easy to be supportive and feel good about it.”
Jasper County Board Chairman Ron Heltsley stated, “This is a tremendous project and the county is excited to have it in our community.”
The team involved in the project includes New York-based specialty finance firm, Lance Capital and its New Zealand joint venture partner, Lance-Kamaka Capital, which serves as a lender on the St. Joseph Renewable Fuels plant and is the sponsor of the HealthCheckIn protocol concept. Other partners include Cyberus Labs, which delivers the technology component of the health care platform, and a joint-venture between McDermott and Chevron Oil, which will be involved in the core technology of the renewable fuels produced.
Bolander said, “Newton and the Jasper County Economic Development team (JEDI) envision that as the state and nation focuses on re-opening, this innovative solution conceived in Newton and Jasper County can serve as a catalyst that ignites a movement to other cities, states and even across the globe.”
Richard Podos, CEO of Lance Capital, said, “The St. Joe renewable diesel plant will drive economic growth in the city and county through $400 million of hard and soft construction costs, the revival of a shuttered site, and the production of ASTM-D975 renewable diesel. We will be advancing the project via tax incentives being offered by the city, and we also will be seeking state and federal support,” he added.
Podos notes 100 permanent jobs will be created in the Newton community, plus 200 construction jobs for the duration of the two-year construction, as well as 300 trucking jobs for the State of Illinois once the plant is commissioned and operating.
Mayor Bolander concludes, “St. Joseph Renewable Fuels, HealthCheckIn, the City of Newton, the County of Jasper, JEDI and Jasper Unit 1 are in agreement that a project of this size will be a ‘game changer’ for the community and this region.”