|By VICKI JOHNSON
LIMA, Ohio — The construction of ethanol plants in Ohio and the governor’s recent announcement that Ohio will be increasing its use of ethanol and biodiesel fuels make the future of ethanol – and corn growers – increasingly bright.
In late February, Gov. Bob Taft announced Ohio will increase its use of fuel made from renewable sources.
He made the announcement while visiting the Greater Ohio Ethanol LLC plant site near Lima. The new ethanol plant is under construction and is expecting to begin production before the end of the year.
The plant will be the first to produce ethanol in Ohio, except for a small plant near Medina, but Mike Newland, business development manager for Greater Ohio Ethanol, said he expects to see a growing network of plants producing fuel in Ohio.
His company is expecting make an announcement on the location of its next plant within two months.
Newland said Ohioans used 300 million gallons of ethanol in 2005 and use will be increasing as plants are built and public awareness increases.
Taft’s plans include doubling the use of E85 – a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline – in the state vehicle fleet from 30,000 gallons to 60,000 gallons per year by Jan. 1, 2007.
After 2007, he said Ohio plans to increase E85 usage to 5,000 gallons each year.
At the same time, he hopes to triple the number of E85 pumps available to Ohio consumers by the end of 2006.
Taft also said the state will increase biodiesel use by 100,000 gallons annually, starting in 2007.
The state is currently committed to using 1 million gallons by next year.
In addition, Ohio will purchase only flex-fuel vehicles that can run on both regular gasoline and E85 as state vehicles are replaced. Ohio already has 1,710 flex-fuel vehicles.
But Ohio’s ethanol future doesn’t count solely on Ohio consumption.
As the closest Corn Belt state to the large markets on the nation’s East Coast, Newland said the market is wide open.
“I think we’ve got a huge advantage for building plants in Ohio,” he said. In addition to corn’s availability, he said, Ohio has strong trucking and railroad systems available for transporting fuel.
“It’s a great way to keep the Ohio economy growing and keep some of that money in-house.”
Newland estimated it would take 11 ethanol plants in Ohio to keep up with the demand for ethanol.
So far, he said the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has issued air permits for two plants in addition to the Lima facility. They are scheduled to be built in Coshocton and Harrison counties.
There are also several other plants in various stages of planning, including a Cargill plant in Bloomingburg, Ohio, a Broin plant in Crawford County and the next Greater Ohio Ethanol plant.
During his visit to the Lima construction site, Taft presented Greater Ohio Ethanol President Greg Kruger and Lima Mayor David Berger with a $5.9 million check for state incentives, including low-cost financing, a Job Creation Tax Credit, Ohio Investment in Training Program funds and infrastructure assistance. The $80 million investment is expected to create 35 new jobs, and at full capacity, the plant will annually convert 20 million bushels of corn into more than 56 million gallons of ethanol a year.
“Ohio family budgets and businesses have been hit hard by high energy costs,” Taft said. “As a leading manufacturing state, Ohio is deeply dependent on ample, reliable sources of energy. Our goal is to move Ohio and the nation away from our dependence on foreign oil and take advantage of our homegrown resources such as coal, natural gas, wind, corn and soybeans.”
This farm news was published in the March 15, 2006 issue of Farm World.