A standing-room-only crowd gathered in a large corn-intake building at the $105 million facility for opening ceremonies attended by Gov. Ted Strickland, U.S. Rep. Bob Latta and Mike Wagner, executive director for the Buckeye Renewable Fuels Association, as well as local dignitaries and POET officials.
“We are honored to open the first ethanol plant in the Buckeye state and the first in the nation since the historic legislation of the 2007 Energy Bill,” said Jeff Broin, POET’s chief executive officer. “This inspiring piece of leadership goes further than we ever have gone before as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy. We are proud to be here today doing everything in our power to continue to move our nation away from Middle-East oil and toward Midwest ethanol.”
The plant is the 22nd for POET. Based in Sioux Falls, S.D., the 20-year-old company is the largest producer of biofuels in the world.
The plant employs 45 people with an annual payroll of more than $2 million and is expected to use 22 million bushels of corn from the area to produce 65 million gallons of ethanol and 178,000 tons of its Dakota Gold brand of distillers grains livestock feed.
In addition to the Fostoria plant, the company has a plant under construction in Marion. The three facilities represent a $400 million investment in Ohio by POET and would produce 200 million gallons of ethanol per year, Wagner said.
“This is one of the better days of my life and my career,” he said. “This is absolutely a big deal. From what I could find in my research this is the single largest agriculture investment ever in the state of Ohio.”
“As energy demands continue to grow in the United States, the nation’s dependency on Middle Eastern Oil must decline,” Latta said. “The facility is an important piece of our energy plan to help reduce that dependency by producing clean burning ethanol, economic growth and jobs to northwest Ohio.”
Strickland said the plant moves Ohio in the right direction toward his goal of getting at least 25 percent of the state’s electricity needs from renewable sources by 2025.
“Ohio and Ohioans would prefer to have our energy needs met by the midwestern farmer rather than by the mideastern sheik,” Strickland said. “We would rather depend on ourselves to meet our needs rather than depend on others who are oftentimes our enemies.”
He said he would like residents of every community in Ohio to have E85 available at fuel pumps.
“Ohio can become an energy center that can provide energy not only to our state but to every state in the U.S.,” he said.
The facility uses technology that eliminates the need for heat in the cooking process of producing ethanol, reducing energy usage by 8-15 percent in comparison with other plants. It also features a regenerative thermal oxidizer that eliminates up to 99.9 percent of air emissions.
Broin said the company is working toward meeting future energy needs by researching cellulosic ethanol production and held up a jar he said was full of ethanol made from corn cobs.
“Someday this technology could very well make its way to Leipsic,” Broin said.
When the Broin family started producing ethanol in the early 1980s, he said they never dreamed the company would become so large.
He said POET’s goal isn’t to be the biggest.
“It’s to harness the energy from the land to create a more sustainable future for our children,” he said.