County considering legal services for issuance of municipal bonds for Calumet project

Cascade County Commissioners will consider a contract during their March 22 meeting with a third party law firm to serve as bond counsel for issuing tax exempt municipal bonds for the Calumet renewables project.

Montana Renewables LLC requested that the county issue $550 million of tax exempt municipal bonds.

The project is a renewable diesel plant at the existing Calumet refinery property.

DEQ issues permit for Calumet’s renewable energy project

Commissioners voted in February to adopt a resolution announcing their intent to issue the bonds.

In the resolution, the county states the Montana Renewables will use the proceeds of the bonds to “finance all, or a portion of, the costs of acquiring, constructing, installing, converting, modifying and repurposing infrastructure and improvements…to create a renewable fuels refinery capable of processing renewable feedstocks into sustainable alternatives; a hydraulic expansion of the renewable fuels refinery, including construction and installation of various pumps, control valves, piping and compressors, a new hydrogen plant, and related improvements; acquisition and installation of equipment in the renewable fuels refinery to facilitate production of sustainable aviation fuel; and related improvements.”

If the bonds are issued, the county will enter into one or more loan agreements or other financing or credit agreements with Montana Renewables for repayment of the bonds, according to the resolution of intent.

Calumet adds jobs for conversion to renewable diesel

The contract being considered during the March 22 meeting is with Dorsey and Whitney, LLP to serve as bond counsel on behalf of the county to prepare resolutions, notices, prepare and/or review bond financing and closing documents and provide legal opinion.

Fees and costs for Dorsey and Whitney’s services will be paid by Montana Renewables, according to the county documents.

The proposed project would have a production capacity of about 15,000 barrels of biodiesel daily, according a release from Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

Calumet planning transition to renewable diesel operations

DEQ issued a decision in October 2021 on the air quality permit and final environmental assessment for the proposed renewable diesel plant at the existing Calumet refinery property.

The permit is for Montana Renewables Inc. and the analysis included the potential emissions from all equipment that will be operated at the renewable diesel plant to ensure the facility complies with the Clean Air Act of Montana, according to DEQ.

Marlena Halko, the human resources director for Calumet, said during a housing summit earlier in March that the company has about 300 contractors on site now for the conversion to the renewables project. From July through October, she said they’ll have 600-700 contractors on site.

Demand for new housing high in Great Falls area; costs slow development

The proposed project is located on private land. The company estimated that construction would begin in the fall of 2021 and the project would be completed by the end of 2022, according to DEQ application.

In August, Calumet opened 12 full-time positions at the refinery for the project.

“These new positions are tangible signs of growth as a result of an in-progress energy transition project at the plant that is converting a portion of the facility to renewable feedstock processing. In the first half of next year, the renewable manufacturing business will be processing soybean oil feedstock into renewable diesel fuels. This will result in immediate carbon reductions and provide opportunities to involve Montana farm and ranch operators in the supply of renewable feedstocks to the facility,” according to a Calumet release.