Port commission could pave way for new clean energy plant at Tuesday meeting

Updated: Nov. 9, 2020 at 9:15 PM CST
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PORT ALLEN, La. (WAFB) - The Port of Greater Baton Rouge Commission could pave the way for a Houston-based company to build a new clean energy plant on the banks of the Mississippi River.

Though not a done deal, the commission could agree to lease the land to Gron Fuels at its meeting Tuesday night (Nov. 10). It would take 500 workers and cost as much as $500 million to build the plant.

“These dollars will flow all up the economic chain from the farmer to the chemical processor, to the ships, to the ports. It’s a win for everyone,” said Dr. Mike Strain, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF).

Gron Fuels produces clean diesel using soy beans and palm oil. Strain says because the diesel is not made from sulfur, it would not evaporate and eventually become acid rain.

An Ascension Parish diesel facility intends to triple its green fuel production by 2023. Another plant in Norco will become the world’s second-largest green diesel refinery sometime in 2021.

Economist, Loren Scott, says more green energy facilities will “pop up" as federal policy shifts away from fossil fuel production, and Baton Rouge could capitalize. He says the Baton Rouge workforce is uniquely qualified to construct refinery plants, and the companies would benefit from access to the river.

“There’s a sense at which the state is diversifying from oil and gasoline to diesel,” Scott said. “These three facilities are helping with this movement away from fossil fuels toward greener fields.”

The port commission will meet at 5 p.m. on Nov. 10.

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