Renewable Energy Group  Geismar refinery.jpg (copy)

Renewable Energy Group is seeking a tax exemption for its a possible expansion of its Geismar biorefinery site.

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GONZALES — An Iowa-based company that converts waste oil into renewable diesel fuel is considering a $1.2 billion project that would triple the size of its Geismar facility and is seeking an exemption from property taxes in Ascension Parish before it makes the decision.

The Geismar facility is competing with other Renewable Energy Group (REG) plants in the U.S. and Europe for the expansion, the chief executive officer of the Ascension Economic Development Corp., Kate MacArthur, told Ascension Parish School Board members Tuesday.

The company is seeking an industrial tax exemption from property taxes at 80 percent for five years, renewable to 10 years.

MacArthur said the project, expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2024, would create 60 new jobs and an additional $3 million in new payroll. 

Currently, the plant has 67 employees and 35 full-time contractors. 

In 2019, the Geismar plant used more than 600 million pounds of feedstock waste oil to make over 80 million gallons of renewable diesel fuel.

"We take a lot of material and produce a very high quality product," said Bryan Christjansen, general manger of the Geismar plant. 

The REG Geismar expansion would generate $84 million in property tax revenue for the School Board over the 30-year life of the project, and $14 million in sales tax revenue for the district during construction.

Under the state's Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) rules, the company would be exempt from paying $65 million in property taxes to the School Board over 10 years.

The board will vote on the tax exemption request at its next meeting, on Aug. 3.

The request was approved earlier this month by the Ascension Parish Council. Sheriff Bobby Webre will be making his decision in the coming weeks, MacArthur said after Tuesday's School Board meeting.  

"You're going to double the number of employees," John Murphy, school board member, told plant officials. "Basically, this is what ITEP was built for."  

Email Ellyn Couvillion at ecouvillion@theadvocate.com.