In the USA, Monroe County officials are developing a plan with High Falls Brewery Co. to turn beer waste into ethanol and produce enough of it to power much of the county‘‘s fleet of vehicles. If all goes well, the county hopes to have extra available to offer ethanol-based fuel to the public.

The Star Gazette reports that using ethanol for county vehicles would save taxpayers‘‘ money and also would save High Falls about US$300,000 a year because it would send less waste to the county‘‘s Van Lare Wastewater Treatment Plant in Rochester.

“It‘‘s hard to find a fault with the project,” said Thomas Hubbard, brewery chairman. “It‘‘s very exciting.”

With a nation moving toward alternative energy sources, breweries are increasingly being looked to as facilities that can double as ethanol stills. Ethanol is processed in a very similar way to beer. The Coors brewery in Golden, Colo., is producing 3 million gallons of ethanol a year and is the largest operation of its kind in the country. Other brewers, including Anheuser-Busch and Miller, also produce ethanol, and Northeast Biofuels LLC is turning an old Miller brewery near Syracuse into the state‘‘s first ethanol plant.

“The process is similar because so many of the ingredients that would go into beer, one could use to make ethanol,” said Matt Hartwig, spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association, a trade group in Washington D. C. “It‘‘s just a matter of how much of that material is available.”

The county‘‘s proposal calls for spending US$3-4 million to build a plant that can produce 300,000 gallons of ethanol a year, a modest share of the 7 billion gallons President Bush has mandated that the nation manufacture by 2012.

Nonetheless, the idea is part of the county‘‘s increasing efforts to develop renewable energy. It is building a US$9.7 million power plant at the Mill Seat landfill in Riga to turn landfill gas into power.

The county plans to construct an ethanol fueling station on Scottsville Road in Chili. If the ethanol plant is built, officials expect to have 60 of the county‘‘s fleet of 250 light trucks running this year on E-85, a mix of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent unleaded gasoline.

The county‘‘s efforts under Executive Maggie Brooks are drawing high marks from some environmental groups. “Her administration has made this a plank of her platform, and we‘‘re happy to see it,” said Bob Siegel, a local Sierra Club leader.

On the drawing board

The brewery‘‘s ethanol plant, however, raises many questions. A major one is how to pay for the construction. Currently, there‘‘s no money to build it.

The county hopes to tap into burgeoning pots of state and federal money designated for renewable energy projects, but there are no assurances that the aid will start flowing, or when.

Another question is who will own and operate the facility. Neither the county nor High Falls has committed any money to building the roughly 2,500-square-foot plant, and neither wants to run it.

Also, the sides haven‘‘t reached any financial arrangements on potential revenue from the plant. High Falls is currently on a plan to pay back the county about US$4.2 million in back taxes and sewer charges.

The hope, though, is that the project could get under way by year‘‘s end. Construction would take only a few months.

“We know it can work,” said John Graham, the county‘‘s director of environmental services. “How it goes together is something that attorneys are going to have to argue about. I know physically it can be done.”

The idea is to establish an arrangement with a private business, similar to th

Ano da Publicação:
WARMER BULLETIN ENEWS #16-2007-March 20, 2007
Kit Strange/Warmer Bulletin
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