SENECA – The Seneca location for Renewable Energy Group is going to be a testing ground for a new concept for the company. At an open house Friday, the the Ames, Iowa-based biofuel company revealed its new diesel fueling station that it plans to open up on site in spring.
REG leaders said the plan has been in the works for some time.
"We've been talking about have a diesel fuel retail project since 2010 or 2011," said Jon Scharingson, executive director of sales and marketing for REG. "It makes great sens to build our first fueling station in Seneca."
Plant manager Tim Mann said that more than 17,000 trucks come through the facility each year, and the facility would also be open to the public. He said the prices would be competitive with other diesel providers in the area.
Mann also said that, as a lifelong Seneca resident, the history of the site and this project is not lost on him. The REG facility is in an industrial park that sits atop the same land as the Seneca Shipyards did during World War Two. Back then the yard built LSTs, ships used to deliver tanks during amphibious landings in Europe and the Pacific Theaters of the war.
Mann said the area was doing something good for the country then, and he saw REG's plant as having a similar mission.
"The most important thing about this is that it's important to the community," Mann said.
The Seneca plant has an influence up and down the Interstate 80 corridor. Mann said most local diesel providers, along with those along the interstate, have at least some REG biodiesel fuel mixed in the fuel.
On Friday, work crews began lowering fuel tanks into the ground. Construction on the site had begun earlier in the week. The site will have 35,000 gallons of capacity.
Mann said the entrance to the planned station will come off a cul-de-sac north of the refinery, have two lanes and be underneath a lit canopy that will display the current prices. It will be credit card only, he said, and under 24-hour video surveillance, partly due to the regulations the refinery follows as it is regulated by the Coast Guard.
The plan is for the station to open late April or early May, Mann said, although outdoor construction schedules can be affected by the weather.
REG Seneca refines 60 million gallons of biofuel per year and has been operating since 2007. It employees 53 workers. The company as a whole refines 565 million gallons per year across its 13 facilities.