Ethanol to flow from Oswego County plant

Sunoco customers in Central New York could soon be fueling their rides with locally produced ethanol.

The Sunoco Ethanol Facility in Volney is finally pumping out the fuel. It shipped out its first four million gallons of ethanol at the end of June and the plant is also expected to fuel more development in Oswego County….

Oswego County Legislature Chairman Barry Leeman thinks the 60 new jobs represent a boost for Oswego County, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state….

The plant could also be a benefit for Central New York’s farms.

Each year, the new plant and its silos are expected to help turn 30 million bushels of corn into 100 million gallons of ethanol. Many people in Oswego County hope this is just the beginning of biofuel productions….

After the ethanol leaves the Volney facility, it’s taken to blending centers throughout the region. Sunoco says the final product then makes its way back to Central New York’s pumps.

Full story
Our Take:
I sat next to an upstate New York dairyman on a flight to Minneapolis last week and he told me that the economy and the jobs picture between Syracuse and Albany in rural New York state is “dead.” He was quite discouraged about the state of agriculture in his region.

Upstate New York is going to discover what Minnesota has known for more than a decade—ethanol is the most successful rural economic development engine America has ever seen.

The Volney plant is a case in point, bringing 60 high paying jobs to town, and consuming 30 million bushels of corn annually—the boost to local grain prices will put major money in the pockets of local farmers. And as Minnesota knows, farmers are among the best local spenders—money earned on the farm recirculates on Main Street, in its retail stores, groceries, car and equipment dealerships and banks.

Of course, you don’t get lemonade without the lemons—the Volney plant was originally conceived and much of the project capitalized by local investors. When commodity speculation turned the ethanol market upside down in 2008, those investors paid the price, and oil company Sunoco bought the plant for 10 cents on the dollar of the original investors’ capital.

We see it as a sign of maturity in the biofuels industry that the third largest ethanol producer in the country is also the largest oil refiner (Valero). Sunoco, Chevron and others now have their toe in the pool. Sunoco still had to put major capital into the project to bring it online.

It is our hope that public policy can grow the market for renewable, farm-based energy, and include incentives that encourage farmer participation in ownership. Minnesota has found farmer owned ethanol plants have added great vitality to a dozen communities and the regions that surround them.

We wish this ethanol company success, not only because we like to see other farmers do well, but we also look forward to New York State leaving its post on the fence and joining the ranks of the enthusiastic biofuels supporters.


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