Several shifts in the industry over the last 10-15 years have led to
building larger plants and the need to combine companies in order to
raise capital, Foster said. American Ethanol includes the merger of
Illinois Valley Ethanol, from the Dwight area, and Pacific Ethanol
American Ethanol plans to have 20 plants producing
100 million gallons of ethanol a year for a combined 2 billion
gallons of ethanol by year 2011.
The natural-gas-operated plants will each take between 38 million
and 40 million bushels of corn to produce 100 million gallons of
ethanol per year. Illinois is probably the best place on earth to
grow corn, and for that reason the company has decided to make
Illinois its home.
What's needed for an ethanol plant? Corn, water, natural gas and
infrastructure, and Allen Station at San Jose has all of these.
Currently American Ethanol holds option to buy 105 acres adjacent to
the Allen Station of Taloma Grain Co.
Allen Station, one of four sites of Toloma Grain Co. elevators,
would be adding more grain storage, Reeves said.
Taloma takes its name from the combination of the first two
letters of each of the three counties it represents: Tazewell, Logan
and Mason. "This will be an asset for all three counties," Reeves
said. "We think it's a good fit."
The property already has rail access that goes east or west.
Where the ethanol would go would be determined by market rates and
rail rates, which can change from day to day.
American Ethanol has an aggressive plan that begins with securing
an option to buy land and proceeds to environmental feasibility
studies, entering the permitting process with the Illinois
Environmental Protection Agency, land acquisition and finally
building. They anticipate promoting one plant every quarter into the
permitting process. The representative said that they have the
experienced production staff and financing to jump on buying the
land and begin building as soon as the permit is received.
10 sites in Illinois:
Dwight -- entered
Danville -- entered
permit process on Monday
Allen Station and
Gillman are in the environmental feasibility study process, soon
to be in the permit process, and there are six other sites
Of the five sites in Nebraska, two sites are permitted and three
are in the process.
What stands most in the way of their progress is getting timely
issuance of environmental permits from the Illinois EPA. The process
is estimated to take 18 months; however, with 20 permits currently
on the IEPA tables, the agency has advised American Ethanol that
they should add another three months to that expectation.
There's a strong climate of support at local and state level,
easing the company's progress, Foster said. He said the company has
had great support from the government and IEPA has been great to
work with. Their staff is doing the best they can, but there is a
lack of resources and they are short-staffed, he said.
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"If we can't get permits in a timely fashion, we're going to have
to look at other states. Our preference is to be in Illinois,"
The company will also need to work with the Illinois Department
of Transportation, as roads will be a factor to support the
additional truck traffic to the plant.
Brady said, "I'm here to welcome you and compliment you on making
He acknowledged that Illinois has been behind in the permitting
process as compared to other states and that this is a disadvantage
He observed that the plants would be a major impact for the state
and local economies just in the property taxes and by increasing
Each plant, estimated to cost between $120 million to $140
million, represents an estimated $1 billion investment in Illinois.
The plants would boost local economy with an increase property
tax revenues, bring 18 months of construction jobs for 150 to 300
workers and then 45 to 55 permanent jobs to operate the plant 24/7,
365 days a year.
It would also influence the grain market to benefit local
farmers. If it raises corn 5 cents a bushel, at 40 million bushels
there would be $2 million increase a year, or at 10 cents, $4
million. That's a direct influence every year for local farmers and
the local economy, Jeschke said.
Plant sites have been chosen by available resources and spaced
out so as not to overburden a given current market area. Extensive
market studies have indicated that corn is abundant.
There are some sites that have other companies intending to build
nearby, such as 10 miles east of the San Jose site, at Hartsburg,
where Illini Bio-Energy has announced intentions to build.
"We've decided we have to put a stake in the ground," Foster
said. That's what you do in business. Some of the other proposed
sites by other companies may go forward or they may not. "We are
going forward, and we're going to move forward aggressively," he
said. "It is just good, sound business sense based on locations."
The U.S. currently uses between 140 billion and 150 billion
gallons gasoline per year.
The company is asking the federal government to pass a 10 percent
mix mandate. That would lead to an estimated need of 15 billion
gallons of ethanol each year.
Although they did not elaborate on it, the representatives said
that American Ethanol has also recently determined to diversify.
They will be getting into the biodiesel industry as well.
Announcements on biodiesel plans would be made by the end of the
year. "We're thinking of not just being an ethanol company, but an
energy company," Foster said.
See the American Ethanol website,
http://www.americanethanol.us/management.php, for additional