Camilla ethanol plant halfway there -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Camilla ethanol plant halfway there

July 2, 2007

Camilla---  Alternative fuel will soon pump money into South Georgia's economy. In a little more than a year, the first ethanol plant in the Southeast will open in our area. First United Ethanol LLC leaders say the Mitchell County project will impact the nation.

Heavy equipment moves slowly but surely across ready and willing dirt in Mitchell County. "We've already done over 6 million dollars worth of dirt work," said VP of Operations Tommy Dollar.

"It's coming along good. It's a big project," said FUEL CEO Tony Flagg.

Right now, you may not be able to see the vision through the clouds of dirt but things are progessing. "Out this way is where the actual factory will be and on the far side will be where the grain elevator will be," said Flagg.

That grain elevator that will process 60 thousand bushels of corn per hour. "In the southeast United States, this will be the largest, fastest, strongest grain elevator," said Flagg.

The goal is simple; use the abundant corn crop and turn it into a profitable and beneficial alternative fuel. "It's basically a still. We're just making alcohol," said Flagg.

It sounds easy enough but the cost is more complex, 178-million dollars. "We've had over 850 investors and a lot of those are agriculturally related farmers and investors from all over Southwest Georgia," said Dollar.

"If we're successful here in South Georgia with this ethanol operation, it's going to help all of us," said Congressman Marshall.

Congressman Jim Marshall sees the vision of the operation as he stands with plant leaders. With the 5 year farm plan in the works, Marshall says the government can help out.

"If there's something that we're headed in the direction of doing that's going to hurt, we need to know it. If there's something we haven't done that we can do that might help, we need to know that also," said Marshall.

This 250-acre operation could not only reduce the nation's independence on foreign fuel but food also. They're ready to be the driving force. "Basically what's driving it now is the ethanol opportunity," said Flagg.

It's a project more than 2 years in the making.  So when will the product flow? "Looks like late summer of 08 right now," said Flagg.

That's when a homegrown blend of the future will hit the market and this dirt will be a thing of the past.

Ten percent of the corn will be provided locally. The rest will come from the Midwest. The plant is expected to make a big economic impact on the area.