Egan: More positive momentum on Epitome Energy

He tells CHEDA Board that air modeling numbers look good

Mike Christopherson

On the same day that they approved the final invoices to bring the balance of a forgivable $250,000 loan to Epitome Energy founder and CEO Dennis Egan to zero, the CHEDA Board of Directors this week heard another positive update from Egan on progress being made on a proposed $300 million soybean crush and biodiesel/biofuel/renewable fuel facility on Crookston’s southern edge.

As Egan and the engineering and consulting firms he’s working get closer to submitting their air permit application and environmental assessment worksheet to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Egan said that the results have come in regarding air modeling, and the preliminary data indicate that the numbers meet both national and Minnesota standards.

“This is really good news,” Egan said. “It’s actually fantastic news in terms of the next steps.”

Egan said the goal is to have everything into the MPCA by the end of July.

He also said that he and his team continue to line up agreements with vendors who will use soybean meal produced at the Crookston facility as well as the soybean oil. The soybean oil has so many possible uses that Egan said he’s talking with everyone from tire-makers to representatives of the food industry. As for the soybean meal, Egan said he’s hoping to announce “very soon” that vendors to take all of the soybean meal produced at the facility have been secured.

He’s also looking to announce soon the general contractor to build the facility, which is a Minnesota company, Egan added.

“Incremental steps are falling into place,” he said.

With the air modeling done, Egan said specifications of the facility, such as stack heights, will be finalized and he’ll be able to come to the City requesting necessary variances, etc.

There are still many things to work through, such as getting state funds to help with necessary roads and other infrastructure at the site. A change in the legal description regarding the size of the property that would be sold – 55.5 acres instead of 60 – needs to be addressed as well, as does the vacation of a road outside the property boundary.

With the $250,000 loan – which came from the City and CHEDA to help Egan navigate the permitting process – now exhausted, Egan said various expenses will be paid and the invoices will be submitted to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for reimbursement, via the $5 million grant the MDA awarded the project a couple years ago.

The CHEDA Board is now comprised of Mayor Dale Stainbrook and six city council members. At the end of Egan’s update at Valley Technology Park, Stainbrook recalled the July 12 council meeting, at which “someone” – Philip Barton – said Epitome Energy would never become a reality in Crookston. “I disagree,” the mayor said. “The council and this board fully support Epitome Energy.”

“The focus is really to deliver a $300 million project to Crookston,” Egan said.