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Ethanol plant will make $2M investment in added grain storage

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 June 2015 at 12:00 am

MEDINA – Western New York Energy plans to add an 800,000-bushel storage facility to the ethanol plant at the corner of Bates Road and Route 31A.

The $2 million project will allow the company to take in more local corn and have more flexibility for deliveries, especially when farmers try to deliver corn before harsh weather, said Michael Sawyer, WNY Energy chief executive officer.

The company currently has 1 million bushels of storage space with two 500,000-bushel grain bins. They can hold about 18 days worth of corn when the plant is at full capacity. The plant, which opened in November 2007, uses about 20 million bushels of corn annually to produce 55 million gallons of ethanol.

Sawyer said the company is considering an expansion and 800,000 bushels of added grain storage would help with an expansion in the future. In the short-term, the extra storage will allow the plant to receive more corn and have more on site when weather can sometimes wreak havoc at harvest in the fall or in delivering the crop during the winter.

“Weather in our industry can make it difficult on us and corn growers,” Sawyer said.

Farmers sometimes try to beat bad weather and the ethanol plant’s storage can be at capacity, forcing the company to turn away some farmers until there is more storage space. The added storage will allow WNY Energy to better accommodate farmers, Sawyer said.

The Orleans Economic Development Agency is working on a sales tax exemption for the project. If it costs $2 million in materials and equipment, the sales tax exemption would save WNY Energy $160,000.

Jim Whipple, the EDA executive director, is working on setting up the public hearing at the Shelby Town Hall for that sales tax exemption.

Sawyer said the company is eager to get started on construction for the project.