A Stanley-based ethanol producer is partnering with a New York state energy company in a first of its kind agreement. They hope it begins a new phase for the ethanol industry.
"Ethanol went through a rapid expansion in 2006 and 2007. Over the last year, year and a half, we've kind of reached that ceiling of what's going to be provided by corn based ethanol. So the growth of ethanol has slowed tremendously," says Ace Ethanol president Neal Kemmet.
But Ace Ethanol in Stanley hopes to reverse that trend. They are partnering with Sweetwater Energy based in New York. Sweetwater will locally produce cellulosic sugar for ace from a diverse group of non-food waste materials.
"They plan on building a facility and taking wood waste or crop residue and turning that into cellulosic sugars or a cellulosic feed stock for ace ethanol to use to ferment into ethanol.” Kemmet says they turn feed corn into 47 million gallons of ethanol each year for gasoline.
"We’re taking a look at replacing approximately 5 to 7% of our corn needs. Then as we get the project up and rolling, you know we can take a look at further diversifying our feed stock by including a larger percentage of cellulosic material."
And that...Kemmet says...will bring down their raw materials costs and propel a new growth phase for ethanol.
"The next growth phase for ethanol is cellulosic based ethanol and the adoption of e-15 as opposed to e-10 at the pump."
Not only does this partnership hope to be a big step forward for the ethanol industry but it also hopes to bring some added jobs here to Western Wisconsin. Sweetwater energy says they will construct a plant in Stanley, adjacent to Ace Ethanol. It should come online in mid-2014.
"There’ll be a lot of construction jobs with building their facility and then in order to maintain and operate their facility they'll be looking to hire quite a few folks for that."