STANFIELD - The proposed Inland Pacific Energy Center has more than two dozen believers after a recent meeting in Portland.
City Councilor Gene Jorgenson issued a report to the council Tuesday, having returned from the Jan. 5 meeting that attracted 28 people involved with the biodiesel and ethanol plant project. It is being proposed by Bob Doughty of Nyssa, the company's project manager.
"All the entities involved seemed very positive that this would come to pass," Jorgenson said. "At the current time, nothing can be done until the property is purchased, brought into the city's urban growth boundary and rezoned from exclusive farm to industrial.
"There was no one who felt that any of the items that needed to be accomplished were beyond reach," he added.
Phil Hamm, superintendent of the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center, was among the scientists who attended.
In a Wednesday interview he cautioned that Oregon State University was there, not to show support for these specific plants, but to express support for the industry and any businesses looking for new ways of using the protein byproducts they produce.
Inland Pacific Energy Center developers always have looked at the biofuels as being a co-product, Hamm said, not the main product.
"OSU is primed to be able help out this company, or any other company to use all of these other co-products," Hamm said.
Among those co-products are distillers grain, canola meal and glycerin, he said.
Jorgenson quoted Scott Davidson, Inland Pacific's attorney, as saying one property has been purchased and two more properties are expected to be purchased this month.
Jorgenson said David Eakin of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland discussed the site selection. He said it was chosen because of its proximity to Hinkle.
"Gross profit was estimated at approximately $38.8 million for both biodiesel and ethanol combined," Jorgenson wrote.
Sandy Grubbs of Union Pacific Railroad said the railroad needs six months notice to order materials for track and switches. Jorgenson quoted him as saying the tracks for the biofuel plant would tie into the "Spokane line approach to Hinkle."
Grubbs said the plan is to provide space for 175-car unit trains of corn from the Midwest and similar trains of canola from Canada. The trains would require a 9,000-foot-long siding and an 8,500-foot-long siding at Hinkle.
Hamm said Doughty's company hopes to use as much feedstock from the local area as he can.
"He has real hopes of getting a percentage of his needs from the local area," Hamm said. "We produce more corn on a per- acre basis than anyplace in the world."
Increased sales should result in increased acreage, Hamm predicted.