Ulysses agrees to supply water to plant

By Stephanie Farley, Garden City Telegram, February 22, 2007

The Ulysses City Council agreed Wednesday night to supply a proposed ethanol plant with more than 600,000 gallons of water, while continuing to look for ways to provide additional water for the facility.

According to Ulysses City Clerk Mary Smith, the council approved a motion to comply with a request from Nexsun Energy for 630,000 gallons of water a day at $1 per 1,000 gallons for the company's proposed bioenergy plant, which is set to be located about two miles west of downtown Ulysses off U.S. Highway 160.

Council members also agreed to work on the city's behalf to obtain more water for an additional 630,000 gallons of water requested by Nexsun pending future expansion of the plant - totaling 1.26 million gallons.

Councilman Rod Kreie, also vice president for the Kansas division of Nexsun, said the company would not double the initial 630,000 gallons unless it expanded the plant, but requested the amount now to ensure future growth was possible.

Kreie abstained from Wednesday night's council vote, with three council members voting in favor of the water allowance and Councilman Scott Malone opposing the motion.

Kreie said he knew of several people interested in selling their water rights, which should give the city a better chance at acquiring the additional water requested by Nexsun at a reasonable price.

Plans for the plant, which Nexsun announced Jan. 23 and plans to break ground on later this year, is expected to produce 40 million gallons of ethanol and 30 million gallons of biodiesel a year. A first for Ulysses and Grant County, the plant would produce 54 jobs for the area, providing a $3 million payroll to the 40 positions for ethanol production and 14 for biodiesel, according to Thomas Kent, Nexsun executive vice president.

Nexsun is contracting with ICM Inc., of Colwich, for the design and building of the plant.

Kent estimated it would take about eight months to build the biodiesel side of production and at least a year's construction for ethanol fuel production, with the plant supplying at least an additional 500 indirect jobs within an 80-mile radius of the plant by other businesses and employment related to the industry and plant.

Ulysses Mayor Ed Wiltse said that after Nexsun built and had the plant operating, the company would, at some point, look at the feasibility of expanding, which would give the city time to purchase additional water. Wiltse said the city had the capacity to allow for the 630,000 gallons a day, but doubling that could run the city low.

Wiltse said that regardless of whether it was for an ethanol plant or another company, it was "prudent" for the city to explore options of additional water with the aim of positioning itself for future growth.

Wiltse said this morning that the city has sent some letters to landowners around the community, inquiring about their interest in selling water rights. He said the city was still in the beginning stages of acquiring additional water and trying to get cost estimates, and had not made any offers yet.

According to Nexsun, plant sales are expected to be $80 million each year from ethanol production and $60 million a year for biodiesel.

Grant County set to break ground on energy plant

By Stephanie Farley, Garden City Telegram, January 24, 2007

After nearly four years of discussion with no tangible results, the city of Ulysses and Grant County are set to break ground on their first bioenergy plant later this year.

Nexsun Energy, based in Los Angeles, is developing the plant, which is expected to produce 40 million gallons of ethanol and 30 million gallons of biodiesel a year.

Thomas Kent, Nexsun executive vice president, along with company President Justin Lee, announced Tuesday at Ulysses City Hall that the bioenergy plant is coming to Grant County, saying that while no date has been set for the groundbreaking or to begin construction, they hope to break ground in late summer or early fall this year.

Kent said the plant, which will take about eight months to build for biodiesel and at least a year's construction for ethanol fuel production, will produce 54 direct jobs for the city and county with a $3 million payroll - 40 positions for ethanol and 14 for biodiesel. He said the plant also would supply more than 500 indirect jobs within an 80-mile radius of the plant by other businesses and employment related to the industry and plant.

Plant sales are expected to be $80 million each year from ethanol production and $60 million a year for biodiesel, Kent said. Nexsun has acquired 94 acres for the plant and is negotiating another 160 acres, he said.

Kent said Nexsun already had $2.5 million to contribute at this time to the plant, which will be located about two miles west of downtown Ulysses off U.S. Highway 160.

Kent said he'd heard positive feedback from the community on the plant. The company participated in a dinner Monday night with some members of the community to announce the plant.

Kent said some residents had wondered if the plant would actually happen.

"We've been assuring everyone we do what we say we're going to do," Kent said.

Lee said he envisioned eventually expanding the plant and industry as the issue of biodegradable fuels continued to grow more important.

"We are here to move forward," Lee said of the Ulysses plant.

Nexsun also is involved with plant projects in Liberal, Dodge City, Hiawatha, Texas, Washington and China. Lee participated in the groundbreaking of Liberal's Arkatlon Energy, LLC, ethanol plant that's set to produce 55 million gallons a year, in August.

Ulysses Mayor Ed Wiltse said city and county residents had been hopeful a bioenergy plant eventually would be developed in the area. He said the city had spoken in the past with another company, North American Bioenergy Resources (NABR), of St. Louis, about building a plant.

"That hasn't come to fruition," Wiltse said.

Wiltse said he was "highly optimistic" about Nexsun's plant and hoped it would help continue diversifying the community's job market.

"Our question would be 'Why not Grant County?'" said Grant County Economic Development Director Gene Pflughoft of a bioenergy plant coming to the area.

Pflughoft said the city council and county commission were good to work with, and the city and county infrastructure was in place. He said the community was looking at future expansion, and a bioenergy plant seemed like "a natural flow" to the corn and livestock industries already in the area.

Pflughoft said he first met Kent and Lee at the ethanol plant groundbreaking in Liberal and followed up with the company through e-mail, saying he would like to show them Grant County. Pflughoft said the area had been looked at by other companies, such as Hilmar Cheese and Smithfield Foods, but nothing came of it.

"It feels fantastic," Pflughoft said of the area finally seeing the development of a plant.

Rob Oglevie, president of the Grant County Economic Development board of directors, said the ethanol plant would be utilizing raw materials already produced in the area. He said two great resources - natural gas and the High Plains/Ogallala aquifer - have helped lead to the prosperity of the area.

Oglevie said the plant would be another boost.

"As those deplete, our tax base will deplete," he said. "We've worked long and hard on ethanol."

Discussion are also underway with Scoular Co., with offices in Omaha, Neb., Minneapolis, Minn., and Overland Park, to bring another ethanol plant to Finney County, said Eric Depperschmidt, president of the Finney County Economic Development Corp.

Depperschmidt couldn't provide specific details but said the company could make an announcement shortly and is planning to meet with the Finney County Commission Friday morning to discuss the possibility in more detail.

Staff writer Scott Bershof contributed to this story.

Ulysses learns about plant

By Tim Vandenack, The Hutchinson News, July 06, 2005

ULYSSES - The questions and concerns ran the gamut at a public meeting Tuesday aimed at providing more information on the proposal to build an ethanol plant outside Ulysses in Grant County.

Still, officials with the St. Louis-based firm planning to build the plant - North American Bioenergy Resources Inc., or NABR - said afterward that the comments were typical. Indeed, one was impressed by the overall attendance.

"I was very encouraged when I saw the size of the crowd," said NABR Economic Development Director John Linehan, referring to the spillover, standing-room-only crowd packed into a Pioneer Communications meeting room here.

NABR last month announced plans to build a 100 million gallon per year ethanol plant here that would employ 100. More details of the proposal emerged at Tuesday's gathering, and though some people expressed concern about some aspects of the plans, others occasionally applauded at the prospect of the economic development brought by the manufacturing complex.

The plant, with an estimated price tag of $105 million to $110 million, would be built outside the northeastern outskirts of Ulysses on a 20 to 25 acre plot off a short-line rail line around the intersection of Stubbs Street and Patterson Avenue. Luis Zambrana, the NABR chief executive officer, said after the meeting that the firm would be purchasing the land for the plant from its private owner.

"We're very anxious to get this proposal going," he told the gathering. "We think we have a signature project that's really going to stand out in the ethanol industry."

The complex would employ 400 construction workers in the 14 months it would take to build and 90 to 100 fulltime employees - who typically earn annual salaries of $40,000 to $50,000 in the industry - once completed.

That's good for economic development and would help prevent population slippage, the bane of many rural communities, said Gene Pflughoft, the Grant County Economic Development Corp. director. As per terms of an incentive program put in place here about five years ago, he said NABR would receive a 10-year abatement on property taxes above the current property tax rate.

Whatever the pros, though, some residents aired concerns. Some expressed worry about the proposed location so close to Ulysses and possible repercussions to those living in the area. Company officials answered that they need access to energy, water, roads and a railroad, and that the Stubbs and Patterson site fit the bill.

At any rate, Bill Roddy, an environmental expert with ICM, the Colwich firm that would build the plant, said odor and the level of emissions coming from the plant would be within norms.

"I would say the potential for nuisance is relatively small for this place," Roddy said.

Another question centered on the truck traffic the plant would generate.

Linehan said if only vehicles were used to bring in the necessary grain to produce the ethanol, 100 or so trucks would come into the plant each day. The number would decline with the use of rail, but NABR still is awaiting a response from the appropriate railroad officials for use of their line here. Whatever the case, he noted county officials are mulling the possible construction of a truck route to bypass the city.

Zambrana said if the Kansas Department of Health and Environment issues the requisite permits for the project by the end of August, the ethanol plant could be operable by the latter part of 2006. The KDHE is about halfway done with the permitting process, an agency official said.

Grant County ethanol plant

By JAMIE JONES, Garden City Telegram, June 15, 2005

Though the exact site has not yet been determined, Grant County is set to get the largest ethanol plant in Kansas, with construction scheduled to start this fall.

The plant, which will be built by North American Bioenergy Resources (NABR) of St. Louis, Mo., will produce 100 million gallons of ethanol per year. About 100 jobs will be created, and the plant will use milo from area farmers, NABR said in a press release.

Ulysses mayor Ed Wiltse said the city is hoping for big economic benefits from the plant.

"This is very exciting news. The job creation, the added value for our farmers that sell grain, obviously it's huge. Anytime a community can get those jobs that have benefits, it potentially can be huge for our economy," Wiltse said.

As to why NABR chose Grant County, location seems to be the answer. According to Grant County Economic Development Board secretary/treasurer Gary Riley, NABR liked the openness of the area, the proximity to livestock and the fact Kansas is in the middle of the country, making for cheaper transport. Riley said the economic development board has been working on bringing the plant in for about a year.

Frank Parker, a lead engineer on the project based out of Atlanta, said the company was looking in southwest Kansas, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma and currently has another project pending in Colorado. Grant County's proximity to the cattle industry, as well as the Grant County Economic Development Board itself were the main reasons the county was chosen, he said.

"The economic development group in Grant County was very professional, consistent and intelligent. They were the easiest to work with. They have the infrastructure, were well organized and efficient," Parker said.

One of the keys to the Grant County plant will be environmental responsibility. Parker has had extensive industrial experience in efficiently utilizing energy and natural resources. He said the Grant County plant will recover and reutilize process water and conserve other valuable resources.

About 10 percent of the U.S. corn crop is used to make ethanol, making Kansas an ideal place for ethanol plants. Ethanol is a clear, colorless liquid also known as ethyl alcohol, or grain alcohol. It is made by fermenting simple sugars derived from such crops as corn and grain sorghum.

The plant's co-product, distiller's grains, will be consumed by the area's cattle industry, according to the press release.

There are numerous other ethanol plants in Kansas, including in Russell, Oakley, Colwich, Garden City, Atchison and Leoti. Plants in Garnett, Phillipsburg and Pratt are under construction, and Kearny County is considering building one.

According to the Kansas Energy Information Network, the Leoti plant produces 1.5 million gallons and the Garden City plant (Reeve Agri Energy) produces 11 million gallons annually.

NABR said construction should start this fall and be ready to produce ethanol in the fall of 2006. An informational meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. July 5 at the Pioneer Communication building, 120 W. Kansas Ave. in Ulysses, where the plant site will be announced.