Camilla ethanol plant nears completion -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Camilla ethanol plant nears completion


June 3, 2008

Camilla--  Is ethanol the fuel of the future? 800 investors in a huge Southwest Georgia ethanol plant hope so.

First United Ethanol LLC, or FUEL,  is set to begin production in the Fall. The $185-million project will produce 100 million gallons of ethanol per year and hopefully help ease our dependence on foreign oil.

What a difference time can make. "It's been a lot of time, money and effort," said Murray Campbell.

In January 2005, it was all just a dream for Murray Campbell. Now it's all forming before his eyes. "Everything that you can see above ground over there has happened since last April," said Campbell.

The Chief Executive Officer of First United Ethanol LLC is quick to show off what's taking place on the thousands of acres of dirt in Mitchell County. "We have two and a half million bushels of grain storage silos. Those are concrete silos," said Campbell pointing out sections of the plant.

The concrete silos he points out are part of a process that will convert corn into ethanol. The vision for the plant began in response to rising fuel prices, way before they got this bad.

"We're facing some real challenges in the world," said Campbell. So is ethanol the cure?

"The impact of the 9-billion gallons of ethanol being produced right now has a direct impact on the price of gasoline," said Campbell. Campbell hopes this multi-million dollar project will help with that impact.

"Most of the ten cities in Southwest Georgia have 10 percent ethanol blends available in them right now and we're going to start sending this out to the terminals in Bainbridge, terminals in Albany, terminals in Montgomery, Alabama and maybe on up to Atlanta," said Campbell.

What will be a fast source of production at the plant are rails. Trains will be able to bring corn in locally and from as far away as Ohio. "We're going to bring in a lot of corn on rail once we get up to running," said Campbell.

But some question if using corn for ethanol is driving up food prices. Citing a recent report, Murray says the affect is very minimal at about 3-percent.  "We're not using up the corn. We're adding value to it," said Campbell.

That projected value should start being produced by October, followed by full production a few weeks later. That's why busy work will continue at the plant in preparation of turning fuel dreams into fruition.

There are also some other benefits to the plant.  About a third of what the plant produces will be a by-product that can be used as feed for cows and chickens. The plant will also produce 200,000  tons of carbon dioxide that will be captured and sold.   It's very clean and can be used in soft drinks and food processing.