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Posted on  

October 16, 2002

Ethanol company eyes Mini-Cassia

By LAURIE WELCH South Idaho Press

A new ethanol plant could open up a new market for corn growers in Mini-Cassia.

Intrepid Technology & Resources Inc. based in Idaho Falls is looking at 12 sites around the Magic Valley including Minidoka, Cassia and Jerome counties to build a new ethanol plant.

Although the company is not yet ready to disclose the location for the plant, Bradley Frazee, general manager of Intrepid Technology & Resources Incorporated said, "The 12 sites that have been looked at has been narrowed and Magic Valley stands out with its nice dairy herds."

"This would be a very friendly plant to have in this area," said Winston Inouye, chairman of the Magic Valley Energy Coalition.

Idaho does not currently produce enough grain to supply the plant and would in fact need double the amount currently produced, with corn being the preferred commodity, said Frazee.

A typical plant uses 15 million bushels of grain per year, he said.

"Which is simply more corn than is available in Idaho right now," Frazee said.

"We would have to bring grain in from out-of-state to get it started," he said.

But, the shortage would open up markets for local growers, said Inouye.

The type of corn usually used is 105 or 95 day corn, said Frazee.

After the ethanol is produced the by-product can be used as a 30 percent protein cattle feed, which is what makes the dairy herds so attractive, Frazee said.

The other economic up-side of the plant locating in this area would be increased jobs in the community including 28 high-paying jobs with a $1 million payroll. The plant would also need about 30 truck drivers, Frazee said.

It would also increase the tax base of the county it locates in," said Frazee.

The down side of an ethanol plant is that it is an industrial setting with a steam plume and possibly odor if it is not run properly, he said.

Charlie Barnes, agricultural field director for Rep. Mike Simpson R-Id., visited a plant in Minnesota and said it was the cleanest plant he had ever seen. Two-thirds of the people said the plant smelled like baked bread and the rest did not like the smell, he said.

"There was almost no odor," Barnes said.

Barnes said he has never seen so much enthusiasm among the farmers as he saw there.

"We will still be diversifying using agriculture as our strength," Barnes said.

For every dollar invested in ethanol production there is a $13 return, he said.

He said he was also impressed with government entities that participated in the financing of the plants in Minnesota.

There are two billion gallons of ethanol produced in the United States each year and some states mandate the use of ethanol in the fuel bought at the gas pumps. Idaho currently does not. But, because of the low population density in the state the ethanol market for the product manufactured here would be California, said Inouye.

"Exporting the ethanol out of Idaho would yield a better return in the long run," said Frazee.

"The petroleum industry is violently against this right now. They could stand to lose 10 percent of their business," said Frazee.

Frazee said he believes we will see $2 per gallon at the gas pumps in the next few years which will make ethanol a popular choice.

The company will finalize the site within the next month and permitting and design is expected to take another year, said Frazee.

"We are two years away from seeing grain going into a plant," he said.

Speaker of the house Bruce Newcomb R-Id., said the more people we get involved in this project the better.

"We've been energy dependent for too long it is time to determine our own destiny," Newcomb said.



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