Four Entities Hope To Create Ethanol Blending Site In Republic County

By Deb Hadachek Telescope News

A proposal to expand retail and wholesale opportunities for ethanol production in Republic County was presented Monday to Republic County Commissioners.

Tony Strnad, Scandia, told the board that Hoard Oil Co./ Scott and Brenda Howard, Courtland, Nesika Energy, Premium Feeders and the Kansas Corn Commission are cooperating in an effort to blend ethanol at the plant west of Scandia. Republic County native Josh Roe is vice president for market development and policy for the Kansas Corn Commission.

Ethanol produced at the Scandia plant is currently transported to a terminal for blending.

The first stage of the proposal includes the installation of retail site with blender pumps just off US36 near the Nesika plant, Strnad told commissioners.

The second stage of the project will be to blend and export bulk fuel from the Scandia location to other retail markets, Strnad said.

“Ethanol can be blended here and leave our facility ready to go to a filling station,” Strnad told the board. The idea add blending capabilities at Scandia is not new, Strnad said.

“This is an old idea, but one that we are again pursuing since Nesika is back under local control of a group of investors,” he said.

Strnad did not identify the local management group of Nesika. The ethanol plant was previously owned by Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC, a joint venture of British Petroleum/Dupont which bought the plant in 2017 to research the production of bio-isobutanol.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that in 2019, the 142.71 billion gallons of finished motor gasoline consumed in the United States contained about 14.16 billion gallons of fuel ethanol, equal to about 10% of the total volume of finished motor gasoline consumption.

All gasoline engine vehicles can use E10. Currently, only flex-fuel and light-duty vehicles with a model year of 2001 or newer are approved by the EPA to use E15. Flex-fuel vehicles can use any ethanol-gasoline blends up to E85.

More than 98% of U.S. gasoline contains ethanol, typically E10 (10% ethanol, 90% gasoline).

The Scandia plant has a capacity of 10 million gallons. Grain grown in a 50-mile radius of primarily feeds the plant.

Economic driver

Strnad asked the commission to consider paving three-fourths mile of the gravel road from US36 to the railroad tracks at the Nesika plant. He said the ethanol plant, Premium Feeders, Strnad Farms and the proposed fueling station provide combined employment for 63 people.

“Approximately seven million bushels of corn is hauled on that stretch of road annually” he said. “On a daily basis, four loads of ethanol, 12 loads of corn and 11 loads of feed go back and forth on the road”, he said. Distiller’s grain is a byproduct of ethanol production used for cattle feed.

The ethanol plant has been in operation for 12 years, opening in 2008. The plant’s 10- year tax abatement has expired, and the tax bill for 2020 on the property is $174,000.

Commissioner Melvin Jeardoe said that because of the semi-truck traffic on that stretch, he would recommend a concrete surface, not asphalt.

“You’re talking big dollars for three-quarters mile of concrete road, but I agree it’s something that probably needs to be done,” he said.

“I think this is the kind of project we need to look at and stand behind,” said Commissioner Doug Garman. “I do know from having to haul corn there over the years there’s a lot of truck traffic, and this will add more to it, let alone harvest time.”

Commissioner Ed Splichal said he will consider the road project, but “it’s just whether we can make it feasible.”

The board told Strnad they would begin to research costs and possible grant funding for the road, and recommended he contact Republic County Economic Development Director Luke Mahin about possible assistance for the business side of the development. Strnad said investors hope to make the first phase of the project a reality in 2021.