Ont. ethanol plant up for $73M from feds

A major corn-based ethanol plant operating in Ontario since 1998 will get up to $72.8 million in federal funding from an incentive program for renewable fuel production.

Local MP Dave van Kesteren on Friday announced the funding from the federal government’s ecoEnergy for Biofuels program for GreenField Ethanol’s facility at Chatham, Ont., about 80 km east of Windsor.

Chatham, which was the first commercial-scale fuel ethanol facility for the company then known as Commercial Alcohols, now produces between 103 million and 133 million litres of fuel ethanol and 60 million to 90 million litres of industrial alcohol per year.

The facility buys about 19 million bushels of corn annually and puts out about 150,000 tonnes of distillers’ grains for use in livestock rations.

The ecoEnergy funding announced Friday will result in “an important investment that contributes to greater workplace opportunity for the Chatham community,” GreenField CEO Robert Gallant said in the company’s release, though he didn’t specify what that investment would be. The company currently employs about 70 people at Chatham.

The ecoEnergy for Biofuels program is meant to back the production of renewable alternatives to gasoline and diesel and the development of a competitive domestic industry for renewable fuels. It also provides an “operating incentive” to facilities that produce renewable fuel alternatives in Canada, the government said.

“This funding will help create local jobs and economic opportunities for local businesses, both of which are more important than ever given the current global recession,” Van Kesteren said. “In the long run, increasing our supply of cleaner fuels will also reduce greenhouse gases and contribute to a healthier environment for all Canadians.”

GreenField says the Chatham plant’s production contributes to net reductions of 170,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Friday’s announcement follows a similar pledge Wednesday of up to $14 million in ecoEnergy funds for GreenField’s fuel ethanol and alcohol facility at Tiverton, Ont., about 150 km northwest of Guelph.

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