It's been two to three years since the
feasibility study began and it is nearing final decisions, Rick
Kaesebier said. Plant construction could begin in 2004 and operation
The proposed plant will operate by
using Illinois coal and Illinois corn to produce 40 million gallons
of ethanol per year.
New technology developed at Southern
Illinois University allows the fine remnants of high-sulfur Illinois
coal to be used in such a way that it is environmentally friendly.
The use of coal will provide a lower production cost than that of
Setting up a plant at the site of an
already established coal mine, Turris Coal at Elkhart, will cut
transportation costs. Corn is also readily available locally. So the
plant will cut costs by reducing transportation costs of raw
materials of coal and corn and using previously wasted coal
The ethanol produced at the proposed
plant will be transported 8½ miles by truck to Mount Pulaski, where
it will continue its transportation by train. Most of it will travel
the tracks to the East Coast. The East Coast is the biggest buyer of
To do this, the road to Mount Pulaski
will need to be upgraded to an 80,000-pound limit. The 40 million
gallons of ethanol per year, about 100 semitrailers per day, will
travel the road from Elkhart to Mount Pulaski.
Leaders from the communities of Mount
Pulaski and Elkhart are working to lend their support to the
project. At Mount Pulaski they are committed to their portion of the
cost to upgrade the Township Hall Road.
The county is being asked to supply an
estimated $3.5 million to $6 million to upgrade the road.
Dale Voyles said that $1 million is
already committed to the regular upkeep of the road, so this will
lessen the amount needed to upgrade it.
The county has a financial commitment
that they have in process with a Fifth Street Road project. But,
they will also consider the possibility of alternative financing,
such as federal transportation funds that they may be able to
Terry Werth and Chairman Dale Voyles
said that they would move this up in priority.
Kaesebier said, "If there is something
the county is able to do that we can have on paper, it would really
[to top of second column in
Mayor Dayle Eldredge has worked with
Phil Mahler from the Regional Planning and Zoning office to look for
ways to offer tax incentives to bring in the project. An attempt to
get the property approved as an enterprise zone failed state
approval. An appeal was filed with no known results.
Mayor Eldredge said that Elkhart is
prepared to offer TIF benefits that she says will offset those of
the enterprise zone that can't be approved.
In addition to contributing to the
reduction in dependence on foreign oil, the plant will bring local
economic strength. It will supply construction jobs during the
construction phase, and later it will supply $50,000-per-year
permanent jobs. It will supply employment income and tax revenue for
the communities, county and state.
of the estimated benefits:
the construction phase:
life of the plant:
Project cooperators include Turris Coal
Company, Land of Lincoln Agricultural Coalition, Babcock and Wilcox,
Illinois Coal Mines, and Southern Illinois University.
The feasibility study has been prepared
by Y. Paul Chugh and Amit Patwardhan of the Department of Mining and
Mineral Resources Engineering at SIU, Carbondale.
remains the preferred location for the plant, though the group
behind the project has considered other locations outside of Logan
County. Locating the processing plant near the mine reduces
transportation costs. The decision of whether to build the new
coal-based ethanol processing plant at Elkhart will be made in the
next two to three weeks.