Ethanol plant would diversify oil supply -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Ethanol plant would diversify oil supply

January 3, 2007

Mitchell County-  Sixty two percent of our nations oil is imported. A new ethanol plant in Mitchell County hopes to reduce that number. First United Ethanol LLC broke ground Wednesday on a new 100,000,000 gallon dry mill ethanol facility. Local investors raised $170,000,000 to get the project started.

Heavy machinery sets up the foundation for what will be Georgia's first large commercial ethanol facility.

"It is a 100,000,000 gallons of ethanol, at a ten percent blend the Atlanta market would require about 300,000,000 gallons, so if you think about all the cars running up and down the road in Atlanta, we can reach that market from here," said Murray Campbell, FUEL Chairman of the Board.

FUEL will use 36 million bushels of corn a year to fuel the plant. That corn will initially come from the Midwest, but Georgia growers are expected to contribute. During Wednesday's groundbreaking, U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson explained facilities like this will help the nation reduce its dependence on foreign oil.

"It's important for our national defense every time we can lessen our dependence on foreign oil we're a stronger nation, it's good for our country's economy, as well as it's good for our country's environment," said Sen. Johnny Isakson, (R) Georgia. 

Initially the plant will employ as many as 60 workers and is expected to bring more development.

"The dry distillers grain and the CO2, two bi-conductors that would really be a boost to this area, there will be a lot of spin off businesses from this," said Bryant Campbell, FUEL Director.

A second impact study predicts this ethanol plant will also produce additional trucking business. While it will be 8 to 10 weeks before construction begins and another 16 months before everything is complete, this locally grown business is looking forward to pouring it's first gallon of ethanol by July of 2008.

The ethanol produced at the Mitchell County facility will be sold in Georgia or wherever the market demands. When production begins the company estimates it may drop gas prices in south Georgia as much as six cents.