CASHTON, WI - The BEST BioDiesel Cashton LLC plant has closed, citing financial difficulties since a $1-per-gallon federal tax credit for biodiesel production expired at the end of 2009, the La Crosse Tribune reported.

The plant had eight employees when it closed. The facility began production in December 2007, but hadn't made any biodiesel since the end of March.

According to Biofuels Digest, the plant was designed to produce 8 million gallons of biodiesel per year. The facility also served as an engineering center for the company's biodiesel technologies.

BEST BioDiesel Cashton, a subsidiary of BEST Energies Inc., filed for Chapter 128 receivership in late April in Monroe County Circuit Court. It had 20 full-time employees at that time, the La Crosse Tribune reported.

The biodiesel industry is operating at only 15 percent of its potential capacity, according to the National Biodiesel Board. The board is an association of commercial biodiesel producers. The end of the tax credit "definitely has been one of the most significant challenges in the last nine months," said Jessica Robinson, the board's director of communications.

The board's members operated 173 plants in June 2009. Today that number is down to 132, Robinson said. And that includes some plants not currently producing fuel.