You may have noticed something different at the gas pumps, the last time you filled up. More service stations are selling gasoline combined with ethanol. It's called E-10 and can be used in any car.
In the town of shelby, stands a facility unlike anything else around. 9 months ago, Western New York Energy, opened up this ethanol plant. "As a farmer I thought increased corn prices would be good for the local economy. At that time experiencing low corn prices and we needed a boost for agriculture," Says John Sawyer, President and CEO of WNY Energy LLC.
Since it opened, business has really taken off. They will take in 20 million bushels of corn each year, most of it is grown locally. It comes in on trucks, once the corn arrives, it then goes through a process.
It is fermented and distilled. The end result is ethanol.
Right now about half of the ethanol that leaves this facility goes by rail and that could end up anywhere in the northeast. The rest leaves by truck and that stays in Western New York. "By early next year however, we expect all of our ethanol will be used right here in Western NY," says Michael Sawyer, Executive V.P. and CFO of WNY Energy LLC.
Ethanol is good for the environment because it cuts down on carbon emissions. "It is renewable, we are not depleting a finite resource. Every year we can grow more corn to reduce more fuel." says Michael Sawyer.
It's also good for your wallet. Experts say the price of gas nationwide would be even higher, if most of it wasn't being mixed with ethanol. "We expect very shortly that all the gas in Wester New York will be blended with ethanol at 10%," says Michael Sawyer. John Sawyer adds, "it could increase the price of gas at the pump by 45 cents if it were not there now."
Ethanol isn't the only thing that comes out of this plant. There are a number of bye-products.
Farmers use the distiller's grain as a feed for their cows and corn oil is being used to make bio-deisel fuel.
"Ethanol is part of the answer. I think we have to start and that's what ethanol has done and continue. As a nation and the world, we are going to have to look at other alternatives." says John Sawyer.
Right now most gas is being mixed with ethanol. That's called E-10 and any car can use it. R.I.T is looking into making an E-20 blend that would be 20% ethanol. Flex fuel cars can use E-85 which is mostly ethanol.
Right now there are just a few fueling stations in our area that sell E-85.