AGRESTI Biofuels - the company which will construct and operate the plant - Program Director Zig Resiaks told Pike County Judge/Executive Wayne T. Rutherford and Pike County Director of Energy and Community Development Charles Carlton the company is "adamant the Pike County ethanol plant moves forward."
"Despite a bleak national economy, the Central Appalachian Ethanol Plant is still a viable project," Resiak said. "Even in these tough economic times, this project is still very worthwhile."
The ethanol plant is not immune to difficult economic times, however, and the project is conforming to current economic conditions by becoming a phased project, Pike officials reported.
Phase I will cost roughly $13 million and will get the first phase of the facility up and running. The project experienced a setback when $5 million was removed under the U.S. Senate congressional review process. Sen. Jim Bunning had placed the $5 million in the federal budget.
"AGRESTI Biofuels is now looking to infuse this project with $5 million of private capital, and re-visiting the Governor’s office for additional funding from the State Energy Program or other sources" Resiak said. "On June 16 of this year, Judge Rutherford, Pike County’s legislative members and myself met with Gov. Steve Beshear, Secretary of the Kentucky Economic Development Office Larry Hayes and Chief of Staff Adam Edelen to make a PowerPoint presentation about the project. The Governor and his staff are very excited about the project and are looking for ways to get it going."
After the presentation, Gov. Beshear assigned the director of special projects to find $6 million in grants and energy funds, stimulus funds and the like. Pike County will also generate funds locally for the phase I of the ethanol plant, projecting $2 million from coal severance tax in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 to go toward the project.
"I was in Pike County this week meeting with Judge Rutherford, Carlton and his assistant Brett Thacker, assistant county attorney Roland Case and Jack Sykes, of the local engineering firm Summit Energy," Resiak said. "The judge’s executive assistant Bobby Branham took us to the site where the ethanol plant would be located so I could re-visit the area and assess the improvement and changes that have been made."
Resiak added that several things needed to build the plant were already in place, including water and an access road.
"We are also pursuing a plan to seek carbon credits," Rutherford said, "which will benefit Pike County in the future."
"We are close to working out all other issues with Agresti attorneys," said Case. "The main issue now is putting together a funding package."
"Let’s hope our economy rebounds and Wall Street normalizes," Rutherford said. "If that happens a full funding package could easily come together."
This project, which will serve all of central Appalachia, will take all solid waste from Eastern Kentucky counties.
The total cost of the project is $200 million, and $87 million is in construction wages. After yearly salaries of workers and cost of operation, Pike County alone could realize up to $1 million a year in revenue, with 5 cents per gallon on ethanol or by-products and possible fuel offset credits and carbon credits. The plant will create 120 jobs, which will pay an annual salary of $43,000.
Big Sandy Area Development District Executive Director Sandy Runyon says she is glad they are keeping the plant alive.
"A Bio-Mass plant would help solve most of the challenges associated with maintenance of the Pike County Landfill, and would also positively impact economic development in eastern Kentucky by providing good paying jobs to our workforce and producing an end product, ethanol, to be sold in the marketplace," Runyon said.
"We want this plant," District 3 Magistrate Leo Murphy said. "It will improve the quality of life by taking trash, diverting it from a landfill and turning it into a valuable commodity."
Carlton said the ethanol plant project will be kept on track.
"AGRESTI has projects in this county along with many other areas around the world," Carlton said. "AGRESTI has informed Pike County that the Central Appalachian Ethanol Plant is their No. 1 priority, and whatever my office can do to move this project along, we will."