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Chester's two ethanol fuel plants take steps closer to becoming a reality

CHESTER -- Two proposed ethanol plants are closer to becoming a reality.

As a corn ethanol company prepares to pass its final local government hurdle Thursday, here's a look at where both projects stand and when they might be coming to the county. Neither company has been named.

Corn ethanol

Q. Where does the project stand?

A. The Chester County Council has already voted twice on a request to rezone to the property. The project also has passed the county's planning commission and zoning board of appeals, meaning that when the council takes a final vote on the project at a special meeting Thursday, the government hurdles would be out of the way. The company would then make a decision whether to buy the property.

Q. If everything goes smoothly, when could the plant break ground? When could it be up and running?

A. The plant could break ground as early as next year. The facility could be up and running 18 months after that.

Q. Where would the plant be built?

A. The company is considering a 330-acre site on Beltline Road.

Q. What would the plant produce?

A. Initial plans are for a facility that would produce 100 million gallons of corn ethanol per year. Eventually, the site might produce what's called cellulosic ethanol, a fuel made from nonfood plants.

Q. How many jobs could the plant bring?

The facility could employ as many as 63 people.

Wood ethanol

Q. Where does the project stand?

A. The county's planning commission signed off on the project last week. The County Council must vote three times before the rezoning for the plant is approved. The project also goes before the county's zoning board of appeals next month.

Q. If everything goes smoothly, when could the plant break ground? When could it be up and running?

A. The plant could break ground next year. The facility could be up and running by 2010.

Q. Where would the plant be built?

A. The company is eyeing a 206-acre site on Lancaster Highway between Chester and Interstate 77.

Q. What would the plant produce?

A. The plant is expected to annually produce 50 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol from waste wood, such as the debris left behind from logging. The plant expects to get all the wood it needs from a 40-mile radius around the plant.

Q. How many jobs could the plant bring?

A. The facility would employ 60 people.

Source: Chester County office of economic development and Clint Thompson, whose Georgia consulting firm is working with the company that wants to build the corn ethanol plant

-- Charles. D Perry

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