July 15, 2008

Honesdale Investment Group Closer to Ethanol Plant

By Megan Reiter, The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.

Jul. 15--HONESDALE -- A local private investment group is moving forward today with plans to purchase 90 acres in Texas Township to build an ethanol plant.

Dave Williams, project administrator for Indian Orchard Renewable Energy Corp. LLC, said the group will today enact a purchase agreement it signed about six months ago for the land. The 90 acres will cost $850,000, he said.

The next step for the group is to seek investors and obtain grants for a 203-foot access bridge from Route 6 to the property.

"It's up to the citizens of the area whether they want to support it or not," Mr. Williams said. "It's like investing into the future of our area."

Indian Orchard Renewable Energy Group is focusing not only on ethanol but on the entire field of renewable energy, according to Mr. Williams.

"This is a renewable energy park," he said. "This isn't just about building an ethanol plant. We want to bring everybody in."

The proposed ethanol plant would occupy up to 30 acres, leaving the rest for possible manufacturers of windmills, solar panels and flex-fuel vehicles, Mr. Williams said.

Noting that ethanol has been criticized lately for driving up the price of corn, Mr. Williams said that without ethanol, the average price of gas would increase by about 42 cents a gallon.

Mr. Williams is confident in corn ethanol's future, but said there needs to be progress with the plant, since "this is our last chance to build something like this in Wayne County."

"Corn is going to pave the way," he said, "but we don't have time to wait."

So far, the investment group has spent nearly $95,000 on feasibility studies for the 90-acre parcel to ensure the land can support an ethanol plant, Mr. Williams said.

The land "has really pretty much been cleared," said David J. Osborne, vice president/engineering manager for Ceco Associates Inc.

Mr. Williams repeated Monday previously released statistics that predict the plant is expected to create 420 new jobs -- 45 at the plant and 375 in the local economy -- by 2017; add $140 million, in 2007 dollars, annually to the Wayne/Pike economy over 10 years; and add an additional $24 million in 2007 dollars to county households over 10 years.

"The bottom line is, we know that oil isn't going to last forever -- or should I say cheap oil," Mr. Williams said. "I feel we're doing a duty more than anything," he later added. "We're not in this to get rich."

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