Ethanol plant seeks wastewater permit in P.C.

PORT CLINTON A $200 million ethanol plant recently applied for a wastewater discharge permit, which wou
JACOB LAMMERS
May 24, 2010

PORT CLINTON

A $200 million ethanol plant recently applied for a wastewater discharge permit, which would take it one step closer to becoming a business in Port Clinton.

NexGen Biofuels Inc. of Wesley Chapel, Fla., would produce fuel-grade ethanol at Lake Erie Business Park on Ohio 2.

"The first major step is to apply for the permit. Without that it's all talk," said Jim McKinney, owner of the business park. "It's not a done deal. This just means it's a step in the right direction."

Port Clinton is competing with three other states for an ethanol plant. They include Shelbyville, Ind.; Reedsburg, Wis.; and Pine Bluff, Ark.; according to thecompany's Web site.

McKinney said the business park offers some competitive advantages to attract the ethanol plant. It provides access to water, sewer, rail, electricity and a four-lane highway, Ohio 2.

McKinney said the park offers a "privatized water system" thecompany could find beneficial since it is expected to discharge about 407,300 gallons of wastewater each day.

"It makes sense that they go where there's water and transportation infrastructure," McKinney said. "And we have all that."

The next step for the ethanol plant is public hearings.

The permit application goes through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, which will conduct a public information session and hearing at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at Port Clinton High School Performing Arts Center.

McKinney said the business park is working with the Ottawa County Improvement Corp. and the state of Ohio to attract the plant here. He said he has been working on it since August 2006.

In August 2007, NexGen Biofuels representatives informed Ottawa County Commissioners the company was pursuing an ethanol plant at the business park.

The plant would create about 45 jobs at start-up with average pay rates ranging from $15-$18 an hour.

McKinney said the plant would need about 70-80 acres of the 500-acre park.

"Whether it happens or not remains to be seen," McKinney said. "We're very optimistic, but we're not uncorking the bottle of champagne yet."

OCIC director Jamie Beier Grant did not return calls Friday, and NexGen spokesman Dan Hernandez did not return an e-mail Friday.

PULLOUT - Information session and hearing

* What - Public information session and hearing on a permit application for NexGen Biofuels Inc.

* When - 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28

* Where - Port Clinton High School Performing Arts Center