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Ethanol plant not coming

June 16, 2007 Herald and News

A company that considered building an ethanol production facility near the Klamath Falls airport will build in the Midwest instead.

Seattle-based E-85 told local economic development officials last month that it would build its $150-million facility elsewhere.

Trey Senn, executive director of Klamath County Economic Development Association, said he was disappointed, but added local leaders are continuing to seek industrial development for the Klamath Basin.

“You have a lot more pop-up flies rather than home runs,” Senn said.

E-85 officials began looking at the Klamath Basin in spring 2006, analyzing availability of water, rail and a workforce to operate the facility.

The proposed site was the Wesgo property near the intersection of Joe Wright Road and Washburn Way, behind the site of a proposed county road shop.

Plans for the facility included production of 100 million gallons of ethanol a year, produced from corn shipped in by rail from the Midwest. It would have employed up to 40 people.

No specifics given

Senn said company officials did not specifically say why they didn’t choose the Klamath Falls site, but did indicate it would be easier to build the facility in the Midwest.

Dan Golden, coordinator of the Klamath County biofuels task force, said he wasn’t surprised that E-85 opted to go with another site. The facility’s need for water and electrical power would have strained the region, he said.

“I was always a little guarded about that proposal,” he said. “There are a lot of stresses and strains facing that industry.”

Golden said the Klamath Basin is still poised for development of biofuel production facilities, citing the needs and offerings of local agriculture as well as the region’s proximity to the California energy market.

Senn said another ethanol company contacted the economic development association 10 days ago about building a facility in the area, and officials are working on other leads for industrial development as well.

Klamath County officials are still developing biodiesel facilities in the county, including one on Liskey Farms on Lower Klamath Lake and a proposed facility in a retrofitted chemical plant on the Klamath River near rail lines.

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