60-acre parcel rezoning application for ethanol plant

Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott H. Christiansen has announced that Wight Partners Int’l LLC has made application to rezone a 60-acre parcel of land located just off Meridian Road, south of Cunningham Road in Winnebago County. The developers of the proposed 100 million-gallon corn to ethanol plant are seeking rezoning approval for the 60-acre parcel situated on the Canadian National Railroad line, adjacent to the Marathon Ashland Terminal and the Farm Bureau. It is in an area of the county where there are several industrial uses related to the petroleum pipelines and gas lines that traverse the area.

The proposed “state-of-the-art” plant, which could start construction as early as this summer, faces a comprehensive review and approval process at both the Winnebago County and state level. During the 12- to14-month construction period, the project will employ upward of 120 people, and “most of the construction trades and subcontractors will come from the surrounding area,” according to John Goebel with Wight Partners. During the construction phase, the project is projected to provide a one-time boost of approximately $157 million to the local economy. When completed, the plant will employ 43 full-time employees.

The proposed plant will process approximately 37 million bushels of corn annually. Studies of existing ethanol plants in Illinois and Wisconsin indicates that these plants typically purchase a major percentage of their corn from local farmers, increasing the price of corn relative to the historic market price by an average of 5-10 cents a bushel.

This year, the nation will consume more than 140 billion gallons of gasoline, while ethanol plants will only produce about 5 billion gallons of ethanol, which will be used primarily as a gasoline blend of 10 percent ethanol with 90 percent gasoline (E10). Company officials state that a great capacity exists to increase ethanol production and usage by consumers. With the recent signing of the new energy bill, America comes one step closer to a more energy-secure future that uses domestic, renewable fuels to lessen its dependence on foreign imported oil.

Wight Partner Int’l LLC will incorporate a broad strategy as ethanol producer, ethanol/gasoline blender, multi-state distributor, and retail provider. The company expects to bring real economic benefits to consumers looking for relief from high gasoline cost, by providing a range of fuel solutions with corn ethanol, a renewable non-toxic, water-soluble and quickly biodegradable fuel.

Wight Partners Int’l LLC, a business unit of Schaumburg, Ill.-based Wight Group, is a third generation group of affiliated family-owned businesses that has provided engineering, construction and development services worldwide for more than 65 years.

In 2005, the combined project volume for the affiliated group of companies exceeded $500 million. The companies are proud to uphold the Wight tradition of quality and service.

From the Jan. 11-17, 2006, issue

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