New biofuel plant set for harbor

The port of New Haven is about to go green.

Greenleaf Biofuels, an alternative energy company, is currently building a facility in the New Haven Harbor to process New England’s excess cooking oil into usable transportation fuel and home heating oil. Gus Kellogg, the company’s CEO and founder, said in a press release that the facility will produce 10 million gallons of biodiesel per year, making the plant the largest of its kind in New England. The company broke ground on the $6 million project on Nov. 4, and the 8,500 square-foot plant is expected to be completed within the next six to nine months.

“After many years of planning, we are delighted to begin construction of this regionally-specific clean energy project,” said Kellogg in the Nov. 4 press release.

Greenleaf is funding the plant’s construction in part with a $1.3 million dollar grant from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. The DECD is financing the project as part of an effort to jump-start the state’s biofuels industry — New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said in the press release that the growth of this sector is “of critical importance to our future” and “a key engine to our local economy.”

Mark McCall, chief operating officer at Greenleaf, told the News both location and government incentives were important factors of consideration when the company decided to construct the plant in New Haven. He said that “a fair amount” of biodiesel is transported through New Haven already, and the city’s large fuel terminal and deep-water port make it “a natural fit.”

Many homes and businesses in New England are heated with oil-fired furnaces, which Anne Haynes, CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of New Haven, told the News makes the area attractive for companies in the biofuel industry. These furnaces can often accept biodiesel instead of traditional oil, meaning Connecticut has a good market for the company, she explained.

Greenleaf creates its biofuels from waste cooking oil — the leftover vegetable oil generated from restaurants and food manufacturers. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, this particular type of biofuel results in the greatest reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Kellogg said in a press release that he expects to create 20 full-time jobs initially at the New Haven plant and will add several more jobs as “[we] expand into the future.” The processing facility project will also create an unspecified number of temporary construction jobs over the next nine to 12 months, he added.

But beyond job creation and anticipated tax revenues, Haynes said that the company’s business operations will demonstrate that New Haven is becoming a “green city.”

“[Greenleaf Biofuels] locating in New Haven shows that we have a green economy,” Haynes said. “It shows that this is a good place for new and emerging industries.”

Greenleaf’s operation is attracting the attention of other Connecticut biofuel companies as well, some of which want to pursue joint-business ventures when the plant’s construction is completed.

Connecticut BioFuels, a smaller Durham, Conn.-based alternative fuel company that converts waste oil to petrol-based diesel, is hoping to collaborate with Greenleaf in the future, Kip Moncrief, the manager of operations, told the News. Connecticut BioFuels currently processes waste oil from many New Haven businesses, including Gourmet Heaven, Miya’s, and the Omni Hotel.

Greenleaf Biofuels was founded in 2004 and is headquarted in Guilford, Connecticut.

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