MARION, Ohio – There is only one “best place” in Ohio to locate a new ethanol plant and that is Leipsic, Ohio, in Putnam County.
According to the Ohio Corn Growers Association, when the consultant it hired to determine the ideal place to locate an ethanol production facility completed his survey of 35 sites in 21 Ohio counties, he returned with only one recommendation – Leipsic.
The study was conducted by Steve Sershen, an ethanol consultant with Val-Add Service Corporation.
Sershen began with the results of an earlier feasibility study that concluded Ohio “is one of the most logical places in the United States to build an ethanol plant.”
Ohio uses more than 220 million gallons of ethanol per year as a gasoline additive with no in-state production. More than 50 percent of the gasoline sold in Ohio is already blended with ethanol.
The first criteria in selecting an Ohio site for a production facility, said Dwayne Siekman, director of programs for the Ohio Corn Marketing Program, was that it had to be located in the northwest or northcentral portion of the state, where most of the corn is grown.
Just stood out.
Several factors made Leipsic stand out from the other sites surveyed, Siekman said.
There is already an established ethanol blending plant. In addition, The Pro Tech Metal Coating plant, a galvanizing plant co-owned by USX Corporation, has steam that can be tapped into.
There are three railroad lines running through the town and a connection with the Conrail main trunk line less than 10 miles north.
Leipsic is 60 miles off the Ohio Turnpike and 60 miles from the port of Toledo.
Siekman said a development group in Leipsic that includes the Putnam County extension office, the county Farm Bureau, and the local development office has been working toward the location of an ethanol plant in Leipsic.
They have already had an organizing meeting, he said, and are in the process of developing a business plan and planning for site development.
The intention is to form a farmers’ cooperative that will build and operate the plant. A 40 million gallon capacity facility is being discussed.
The role of the state corn marketing program at this point will be to assist in obtaining state assistance for the plant, Siekman said.
“That was another factor that our consultant said would be necessary for this plant to succeed – some kind of state assistance,” Siekman said.
Siekman said he hopes to interest the state in creating a producer payment program like the one that has been instituted in Minnesota.
The Minnesota Ethanol Program pays producers 20 cents a gallon on the first 5 million gallons.
As a result of the program, Minnesota now has 14 ethanol plants producing almost 250 million gallons annually. They are processing $240 million worth of corn.
The 12 plants built since 1991 are owned and operated by farmer cooperatives that include almost 9,000 members.