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Biofuels company considers Lake County location

Red Rock Biofuels representative Jeff Manternach detailed plans for a Lake County site that could potentially generate up to 75 local jobs.

Manternach detailed plans for a mill that would create jet fuel from woody biomass materials during a special meeting of the Lake County Board of Commissioners held Monday, Feb. 10.

Lakeview is under consideration for a potential biorefinery site, Manternach said, that would annually generate 14 million gallons of finished jet fuels from 140,000 dry tons of biomass residues.

Manternach estimated up to 25 employees on the plant site, and another 50 full-time equivalency positions in the woods and transportation.

At present, Red Rock Biofuels is in the project development stage, which includes environmental reviews and engineering work.  The company has received a matching grant of $4.1 million from the U.S. Department of Defense, Maternach said.

The engineering phase is estimated at five weeks prior to a formal presentation on the project’s plans to the Department of Defense in mid-April, he said.  The DOD has confirmed that up to two of four projects that received the first-phase grants would receive substantial funding for construction, Maternach said.

Word on this decision is expected by possibly late June, he said.  This timeline would afford closing on the grant by the end of July and allowing construction to begin on the plant by the end of August or September, he added.

Included in his presentation to the County Commissioners was a request for permission to conduct an archaeology survey along a 3-mile stretch of the railroad.  The firm is interested in accessing natural gas off of the Ruby Pipeline for its proposed local plant, and a National Environmental Policy Act regulations require an evaluation of area cultural resources.

Manternach affirmed he’d had conversations with Cornerstone Industrial Minerals, who had approached the Commissioners in past months with interest in possible natural gas development for their operations.

A shared opinion, he said, is that the availability of natural gas locally would benefit all.

The archaeological study could be used by other firms for planning purposes, should Red Rock Biofuels not locate to the Lakeview area, Manternach said.

Manternach also said he’d had conversations with Avista and Kinder Morgan on a potential pay-back schedule for usage fees built around a set rate per BTUs.  For this type of arrangement, a private provider would be preferable, he said.

Commissioner Brad Winters expressed interest in maximizing opportunities for the Lake County community should things move forward.

There would likely be a need for access to the Town of Lakeview’s sewer and water services, which would likely require annexation.

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