Regional meetings to explore viability of ethanol plant

Results of a recently completed feasibility study to determine whether an ethanol production plant would be profitable in the Rice/Barton/ McPherson county area will be presented at three upcoming public meetings.

The study was commissioned by Central Kansas Renewable Fuels, a group of local grain sorghum producers and feedlot owners wanting to explore ethanol as a value-added commodity.

The first meeting will be held at 8 p.m., Monday, July 16 at the 4-H Building in McPherson. A second meeting will be held in Great Bend at 5 p.m., Tuesday, July 17, at the Extension office meeting room 1800 12111 St. The final meeting will be held at 8 p.m. that same day in the Lyons State Bank meeting room.

Consultant Mike Bryan, president of BBI International, a leading ethanol industry consulting firm from Cotopaxi, Colo., will be discussing the profitability of a proposed ethanol plant in the area, in addition to answering questions about ethanol production and marketing.

The study looks at converting 11 million bushels of locally produced grain sorghum into three products: ethanol, distillers grains and carbon dioxide.

Ethanol is used mainly as an environmentally friendly additive to gasoline. Distillers grains are a palatable, high-quality feed concentrate to be utilized largely by the feedlot industry in central Kansas.

Anyone interested in ethanol production or by-product utilization is encouraged to attend any of these meetings. No preregistration is needed, and no solicitation for investment will occur.

CKRF was formed in early 2001, combining groups investigating the ethanol industry in McPherson, Rice, Barton, Pawnee, Marion and Harvey counties.

Officers in the group include: Jack Wempe, Lyons, interim president of the group; Roger Wittig, McPherson; Carl Dudrey, St. John; and Dave Studebaker, Walton.

Also on the committee are Bob Nattier, Moundridge; Delbert Schrag, McPherson; Daryl Larson, McPherson, Kenneth Knight, Loyns; Richard Fisher, Sterling; Mike Ringwald, Ellinwood; and Ted Schultz, Hutchinson.

CKRF has announced plans to form a limited liability company for the purpose of building an ethanol plant in one of two locations in Rice County.

The plant, with an estimated production capacity of 30 million gallons, is projected to require an investment of about $47 million.

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