Industries Energy/Green

Company to open ethanol production facility in Hopewell

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Vireol Bio Energy LLC said Wednesday that it plans to start production of ethanol this month at the former Osage Bio Energy facility in Hopewell, creating 70 new jobs.

The City of Hopewell is receiving a $250,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID) for the project. The city is also offering a rebate of its machinery and tool tax as its local match for the grant. The company also will be eligible for Virginia Jobs Investment Program employee training incentives and qualifies for the Biofuels Production Incentive Grant, which was passed by the General Assembly this year.

Vireol  will spend $26.2 million to begin production at the facility, producing more than 170 million gallons of ethanol from corn, barley and other small grains. The company has agreed to buy one-third of its grain from Virginia. It plans to spend $100 million to purchase 21.7 million bushels of grain from Virginia farmers

The facility will be the largest ethanol production facility on the East Coast.

“Vireol’s decision to invest in Virginia rather than sending the plant’s assets overseas brings to life an impressive yet completely unutilized facility that will create good paying jobs right here in Virginia,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement. “It is outstanding that we are able to bring a new company like Vireol to Virginia by leveraging an existing asset and Virginia’s outstanding climate for business. “

Osage Bio Energy closed the Hopewell facility in 2011 before ethanol production began, putting the facility up for sale because of “unfavorable marketing conditions.”

McAuliffe met with company executives from the British firm Vireol in his first month in office to tout the state’s port and transportation facilities, and rich grain offerings.

Vireol is planning to improve the plant’s ethanol production capabilities and build new value-added processes for the site. A byproduct of Vireol’s ethanol production are dried distiller grains, a high protein feed ingredient that is popular with poultry and livestock producers. The company is also investing in a facility to capture carbon dioxide created during the fermentation that is used for beverage carbonation and food preservation.

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