Sunday, September 07, 2008

San Francisco Gets Greasy
The city will consider a proposal to build what could be the first biodiesel plant in San Francisco – and possibly buy the fuels from the plant for its fleet.
Bullet Arrow September 5, 2008

A newly proposed biodiesel plant in San Francisco could supply fuels for the city fleet, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said Friday. 

Darling International will seek approval from the San Francisco Port Commission to build the biodiesel plant at Pier 92. The plant would produce up to 10 million gallons a year by converting cooking oils from local restaurants and other fats and greases into biodiesel.

If it's approved, it will be the second planned biodiesel plant in the city. In May, the San Francisco's Public Utilities Commission received a $1 million grant from the California Energy Commission to build a pilot plant. The plant would make use of the more than 2.5 million gallons of brown grease – pan scrapings and oil residues in restaurant sinks - produced annually in the city.

San Francisco, which doesn't have any biodiesel plants in operation, is keen on establishing local fuel supplies for its fleet of 1,500 biodiesel vehicles.

"We want to buy locally produced biodiesel and cut out the thousands of miles it takes to have it transported to the city," city spokesman Brian Purchia said. The city currently buys biodiesel from suppliers in the Midwest, he said.

Darling already operates a rendering facility for animal fat and cooking oils at the pier. The company, which hasn't disclosed the project's cost, plans to expand its current operation to include biodiesel production. The company is the largest maritime exporter at the port and has operated the rendering plant since 1966.

The proposed plant is small compared to typical commercial biodiesel facilities.  But it might be able to count on the city as its chief customer. Newsom said in a statement that Darling's plant could serve " as a model for cities throughout the world who aim to reduce their carbon footprint and transform their grease waste into useable, sustainable energy."

The city hasn't signed any contracts to buy fuels from Darling, however, Purchia said.

The port commission is scheduled to consider the project next Tuesday. 

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