Thursday, March 24


Ag audience gets ethanol plant update

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[MARCH 24, 2005]  Sara Wilcox, the manager in charge of project development for Illini Bio-Energy, gave an update Wednesday morning at the Logan County Ag Breakfast.

She reported that $25,325,000 in investments has been obtained to date for the project -- an average of about $33,000 from each of their 700 members. Other separate sources indicated that this was the largest amount to date obtained in the shortest period of time for the development of an ethanol production facility.

She stressed that the purpose of the Illini Bio-Energy facility is to convert surplus grain to ethanol, a renewable fuel source. The company aims to benefit area farmers by increasing corn prices some 4-5 cents per bushel.

Wilcox also pointed out that some service stations in the area were already selling E85, an 85 percent ethanol gasoline blend for flexible fuel vehicles. She said the advantage from E85 was clear, since the price of E85 was about 60 cents lower than regular unleaded gasoline this morning.

The Illini Bio-Energy plant will produce ethanol, low-cost carbon dioxide and livestock feed from the corn they buy locally. They expect that the economy of the area will be increased by about $1.5 million per year. Wilcox added that although the plant would directly employ about 38 people, they expected that there would be about 70 ancillary jobs created in the county because of the plant's presence.

In preparing for this project, Illini Bio-Energy surveyed the whole Midwest south of I-80 from Indiana to Missouri. The area north of Lincoln returned the best statistics for success. Access to railroads, availability of water, available grain sources and access to multiple highways placed Lincoln at the top of the list. The other available site which suits the needs of an ethanol plant is not in Logan County.

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Several weeks ago Illini Bio-Energy signed an option contract on the proposed property, and since that time has employed experts to determine if site is appropriate for the company's use. They are awaiting that final determination. There are currently 16 of these plants in operation around the country.

Wilcox finished by thanking the local news organizations for their balanced reporting on the ethanol plant issues. She remarked that there is a great deal of misinformation out there in the media and on the Web. She recommended their website at and as sites that stick to the facts.

[Jim Youngquist]

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