August 31st, 2012 by Ric Hanson
Prospects for an ethanol plant project in Atlantic may be renewed thanks to a client of PlanScape Partners in Clear Lake, who is interested in building a 25-million gallon second-generation ethanol production facility in the Amaizing Energy Urban Renewal Area.
Kathy Schowalter of PlanScape Partners made a presentation Friday morning to the Cass County Board of Supervisors on behalf of Ron Fagen, CEO of Granite Falls, Minnesota-based Fagen, Incorporated, for a Cellulosic ethanol plant.
Schowalter said no commercial cellulosic ethanol plants currently exist anywhere in the country, and there are only a trio of smaller projects in the works. If a cellulosic ethanol plant is eventually built in Atlantic, it would using corn stover. The by-poducts would be Lignin, which is a corn starch, and of course, ethanol. Schowalter says the end product is a clean-burning, high-octane fuel. She said stover for the plant would be collected from suppliers in a 50-to75-mile radius of Atlantic, and it would also be a boon to Cass County by bringing in younger workers, more families and quality jobs, and extra revenue for farmers.
Schowalter says it needs 350,000 tons of corn stover. It will cost about $250-million dollars to build, and create a conservative $25-million in new property tax revenue. She says the plant could also create some spin-off industries and make a positive impact on current businesses. It could employ 40 to 45-people, with a payroll of $1.8-million. Schowalter said in order for the project to be competitive with State and Federal incentives given to other ethanol plant projects…the funds for which she says are drying-up…there has to be a local contract for assistance.
Schowalter asked the Board of Supervisors to consider local assistance in the form of: a property tax exemption until production begins; 50% property tax exemption/rebate for ten years after production begins; and assistance with applications for State and Federal incentives. Even with an agreement in-place, the permitting process she says will take up to a year once investors are secured, construction on the plant itself would take 18-to 24-months. The Board took the proposal under advisement, and will render a decision by October 10th.