HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) - The state's first ethanol plant is on track to open this summer. Construction is well underway at the Appomattox Bio Energy facility in Hopewell. The $170 million project has faced numerous hurdles but as of right now, construction on the plant is about 80 percent complete.
Work on the project got underway just over a year ago. The plant is scheduled to be finished no later than July -- to coincide with 2010's barley crop.
"We're also offering a true crash crop opportunity to the region al farmers, and at a substantial one at that, we'll be buying upwards of 30 million bushels of grain per year. So that's a tremendous economic opportunity for the agriculture sector," said Craig Shealy, President of Osage Bio Energy.
Getting to this point has not been an easy task. The project encountered major opposition from some city leaders and residents who expressed safety concerns. It now appears those worries have subsided.
"We obviously have to stay within very tight regulations provided by the DEQ, EPA, and a number of other environmental bodies," said Shealy.
Some 60 people have been hired to work at the plant. The facility is expected to generate $2 million in tax revenue annually for the city.
"That is a significant when you got businesses closing and some places being hit hard. So we're fortunate with this upcoming boost to our tax base," said City Council representative, Christina Luman-Baoley.
When the plant opens for business it's expected to produce some 65 million gallons of ethanol yearly.