Question: How did you think the meeting
went the other night? (the second CCLC meeting).
Wrage: It was just like the first
meeting. Nobody listened. I don't think I'll go to any more of their
Question: Are you saying that the
people who live in that area don't have anything to be concerned
Wrage: Illini Bio-Energy will be a
good neighbor. The plant will be clean. All the chemicals and
ingredients, including the coal, will be stored inside. People
living in Epperson Addition won't see, hear or smell the plant.
It used to be that the plants made
some noise. But they have redesigned the silos, and even the hammer
mill will be located inside a concrete building between the two
silos. It will be very quiet. And if there is any noise, the sounds
from I-55 will filter them out.
I live in this area. I take this
road every day to go into Lincoln. My mother-in-law lives right
there in Epperson (pointing). This area will only be benefited by
the ethanol plant.
Question: How about the people
living over on 1200th Avenue? Won't they be overwhelmed by the
vision of the plant when they look out their front windows or go out
in their front yard?
Wrage: The plant will be built on
the east side of the tracks and will be shielded from their vision
by the old interurban tree line, which we plan on keeping in place.
In addition to that, our budget calls for planting some more trees
to make it a nice place to look at. The people over on 1200th Avenue
don't really have anything to be concerned about. If only they would
take the trip over to Iowa and visit some of the other ethanol
plants, they would see that they look good and aren't anything like
what they are envisioning.
Question: I saw the picture of the
ethanol plant on your website. It actually looked very nice. Will
the plant you are building here be like that plant but have a coal
pile and coal-handling equipment?
Wrage: Yeah, the plant will look
just like that plant from Iowa. But, the coal will be housed in a
silo. You won't see any of the materials. Our EPA permit restricts
us to keeping everything inside, out of sight. There won't be any
blowing dust from coal or grain or fly ash. These are nice plants,
state of the art. They are built by Fagan, the top of the line,
designed for many years of use.
Question: So, you don't think this
will really affect the people in this area?
Wrage: The people who own the two
houses on the east side of Nicholson Road will be directly affected.
The plan is to make them an excellent offer to buy their homes.
Other than that, people in the area of the plant won't be affected.
Question: What about the safety
concerns being expressed?
Wrage: This will be a very safe
plant. There is no threat of fire or explosion or leaks. The
materials will all be safely housed. This industry has a safe
record. All the materials that are on the property are also at other
places in and around town. We aren't increasing any risks. And we
will environmentally be very good neighbors.
I've visited the coal-fired power
plant over at LDC that everyone talked about at the meeting. It's
grandfathered in. The current EPA rules don't apply to it. That
power plant is a mess. Our plant won't be anything like that. There
won't be any smoke coming out of our stack and no smell.
Question: So, you won't be adding
shredded tires to your coal fire?
Wrage: No, not unless there is some
benefit to adding shredded tires to the mix and the EPA tells us we
Our furnace burns very hot. That is
one of the advantages. Everything gets burned up cleanly. There is a
layer of sand at the bottom of the furnace to help even out the
heat. The coal fire is kept at about 1,450 degrees, just below
turning the sand into glass.
Question: Don't the people of the
area have valid concerns about the water supply?
Wrage: We are currently planning on
getting our water from Illinois American Water. We're going to talk
to them next week about a deal to help them bring in that new well
on the east side of town.
[to top of second column in this article]
Question: So, you don't really plan
on drilling wells and taking advantage of less expensive water from
the Mahomet Aquifer?
Wrage: Less expensive would be
great. But, right now we are planning on buying our water. If we did
drill wells, it wouldn't even put a dent in the water supply. A
couple years ago they bored a 36-inch well over by Emden and pumped
it for seven days. I don't know the rate they took water out of the
well, but it was some fantastic amount per minute. Anyway, over that
week's time, the water level only went down one-half inch, and it
went right back to its normal level immediately when they stopped
Question: Don't you think it was a
mistake to say there wouldn't be a fence the other night at the
Wrage: There will be a fence. We
currently have a budget of about $5 million for all the site things
other than the plant. That includes planting trees. Our investors,
and there are about 600 of them, have said that a fence is needed.
The total budget for this project is about $96 million. Everything
will be done right.
Question: Aren't people concerned
that ADM and other big agribusiness companies will end up owning
Wrage: Our investors are made up of
farmers like me from this area. Our whole board of directors is made
up of farmers. Nobody can own more than 10 percent of the stock.
This plant will bring much more than
38 jobs to this area. We will be bringing in income from all over
back here to Logan County. We will sell the ethanol on the East
Coast, and that money will come back here to enrich the county. This
will be very good for Logan County.
Yeah, ADM did help get a few plants
going, including an inner-city plant in Minnesota. But they loaned
the money to get the plant going, and then it became an independent
This plant won't be anything like
ADM over in Decatur or Staley's.
Question: Aren't the people over in
Jacksonville begging you to put the plant there, ready to welcome
you with open arms, ready to even give you the property to put it
Wrage: I misspoke during the first
meeting. It's Taylorville, not Jacksonville. Yeah, they really want
us over there. They have the railroad, but there are problems with
the water supply. They don't currently have the capacity over there.
We really want to put the plant here. This site is ideal.
Question: Won't major changes need
to be made to Nicholson Road?
Wrage: I think turn lanes will be
added down near Route 66, but that is up to the county what changes
they make. I know the hill will have to be shaved off, but I don't
think the road will have many other changes. Everybody is making a
big deal about how much we will increase traffic. But 100 trucks
over a 16-hour day won't really increase traffic much on that road
Question: If things go according to
your plan, when will the plant be ready for production?
Wrage: The rezoning study takes
about six months. Then there is a hearing period after that, which
is three months long. During that time we have to answer every
single question and complaint that is made about putting the plant
there. The time to construct the plant is about 18 months. Without
other delays, we would be up and running some time in 2007.
Question: What would happen to this
ethanol plant if Congress ever did away with the ethanol subsidies?
Wrage: The first thing you gotta
know is that we don't receive receive a dime from ethanol subsidies.
It isn't a line item in our budget. The ethanol subsidy is applied
at the time of distribution, not at manufacture. It happens when the
ethanol is blended with the gasoline. While the subsidy does help
promote consumption, it doesn't affect us directly. So, if the
subsidy went away, we won't be directly affected. Subsidy or no
subsidy, we believe the future of ethanol is very bright.
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