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News from Around the Farm World - Jan. 16, 2013
ADM restarts Illinois plant after explosion; cause undetermined

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) has restarted operations at a corn processing plant in Illinois two days after an explosion forced the facility’s closure.

ADM spokeswoman Jackie Anderson said Friday the company planned to be back at full production in Peoria by the following day. Decatur-based ADM shut down production at the plant before dawn Jan. 9 after the explosion and a fire that followed. No one was seriously injured.

Firefighters said they found an open natural gas line in the ethanol distillery that was feeding the fire. But fire officials say the cause of the fire hasn’t yet been determined. The damage was estimated at more than $1 million.

Troubled Ohio lake to offer extended vacation discounts
ST. MARYS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio is offering extended discounts starting this spring at the state’s largest inland lake.

The sprawling Grand Lake St. Marys in western Ohio was hit by a toxic algae bloom in 2010 that damaged the region’s tourism business, while highlighting problems caused by phosphorous runoff from farms. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says discounts at the lake include 25 percent off shelter house rentals and half-price discounts on fees for docks, camping and day use.
The special rates will be in effect from April 1-Oct. 31, but don’t include certain periods, such as days around the Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day holidays. The department’s deputy director said the state hopes the discounts encourage people to pick Grand Lake St. Marys State Park as their vacation destination.

Spanish company withdraws Illinois wind farm plan

OREGON, Ill. (AP) — A Spanish company is withdrawing plans to build a wind farm in Ogle County.

Sauk Valley Media reported Gamesa USA has informed landowners it’s terminating the lease options it had for the wind farm in the northern Illinois county. The company said it found the wind project wasn’t commercially viable.

Ogle County Zoning Administrator Michael Reibel said he isn’t surprised Gamesa pulled out. He said he’d never had any detailed information about the project, although officials knew Gamesa was planning to secure lease agreements.

David Loomis of Illinois State University’s Center for Renewable Energy said the renewable energy industry isn’t planning many more wind farms now. Loomis said the windiest sites have been built or are under leases.

Regulators nix deal for SE Ohio solar farm project

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Utility regulators in Ohio have nixed plans for American Electric Power Co. (AEP) to use power from a southeastern Ohio solar farm to meet its renewable energy requirements, putting the project’s future in jeopardy.

AEP-Ohio said it was disappointed with the 3-1 vote by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) regarding the Turning Point project, and was weighing its next move. The company has 30 days to ask for a rehearing.

Commissioners went against the recommendation of staff to fund the project, touted in 2010 as the largest solar energy project east of the Mississippi River.

“Obviously we’re disappointed with the decision,” said Terri Flora, AEP-Ohio general manager. “We believed the agreement was incorporating the jobs with an environmentally-friendly project that would help meet those renewable requirements.”

Under recent changes to Ohio law, utilities are required to generate a portion of their electricity through alternative energy sources, including solar. Regulators said the utility hadn’t demonstrated that investing in the Turning Point project would benefit ratepayers, nor that it was necessary to meet the company’s renewable energy requirements.

The solar farm planned near the wildlife conservancy called The Wilds was projected to create hundreds of jobs and produce enough electricity to power 25,000 homes. AEP had agreed to purchase power from the facility for 20 years to help fulfill state renewable energy rules. The PUCO ruling blocked that arrangement.

Ohio Democrats criticized the commission’s decision. They said commission appointees of Republican Gov. John Kasich were heeding the objections of FirstEnergy Corp., an AEP competitor whose executives have donated to the GOP. Turning Point was first announced by previous Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat.