Painstaking care taken to build an eco-friendly facility
By Ron Scherbring
MinnErgy, LLC, plans to build a 55 million gallon per year ethanol facility just outside of Eyota. The concept for the plant was developed by 37 successful and conscientious area residents with agriculture backgrounds.
The United States has struggled to meet its energy needs, importing more than 5 billion barrels of oil from foreign sources in 2007. The Renewable Fuels Standard, passed in December 2007, outlines a national effort to reduce our dependence on foreign oil over the next 14 years. Blending ethanol with our petroleum supply will actively support the process of energy independence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
More than 180 million bushels of corn is produced in the local eleven-county region every year. Our plant will consume approximately 10 percent of that crop.The plant will provide an opportunity for local producers to add value to their crops. As new technologies and raw materials become readily available, our plant intends to develop with them.
We will also produce dried distillers grains, a food-additive for cattle. In the 11-county region surrounding the plant, there are more than 300,000 head of dairy and beef cattle, more than enough to consume all that we could produce. A member of the City’s Ethanol Proposal Advisory Group recently toured a similar plant and reported, "The distillers’ grain (dried version of wetcake) is stored in an enclosed building and transferred to waiting rail cars. The odor in that room was significant, but did not permeate outside the building to any degree. I was able to approach a rail car loaded with distillers’ grain and there was no significant odor."
We have taken painstaking care to ensure that we build an eco-friendly production facility. The Environmental Assessment Worksheet that we submitted to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is the most comprehensive study they had ever received.
Our commitment won’t stop with the permit process. Among the features common to a Fagen, Inc.-built plant is equipment that will not only deaden the noise coming from our hammer mill, but also treat and monitor emissions from the plant. We plan to meet or exceed state standards by keeping close watch on our operation and by training our staff to do the same.
The use of all water in our state is controlled by the Department of Natural Resources, and, ultimately, they ensure that the water supply is safe and protected. While the plant will utilize a great deal of water, our testing indicated no proof of water table issues. Much of the water used in an ethanol plant is recycled back into the process. We anticipate our plant design will incorporate a wastewater treatment process that is expected to result in a zero discharge of plant process water.
We care about the citizens of Eyota and the surrounding rural area and have offered several trips to existing ethanol plants. Subsequent to a visit to the Granite Falls, Minn., plant in July 2007, a city of Eyota employee reported, "There is no noticeable smell, noise or smoke being emitted. From outside appearances, there is little activity except for an occasional semi-truck entering."
(The full report is available on the city’s Web site at www.eyota.govoffice.com. Click on "Notices to Citizens/ Proposed Ethanol Plant." )
Learn more facts about our project by stopping at our office. We are located in Eyota at 8 North Front Street N.W ., and we’re open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or other times by appointment. We may be reached by telephone at 545-0197 or on the Web at www.minnergy.com.
This is a unique opportunity for local people to get involved in providing for the future needs of all Americans by supporting our efforts to responsibly contribute to our nation’s fuel supply. We are confident that the plant will be a shining example of utilizing local resources in a new way that will provide benefits now and long into the future.
Ron Scherbring is president and CEO of MinnErgy, based in Eyota.
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