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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Fort Wayne to Become Subsidized Mini Bio-Burg?

The State of Indiana recently named Reynolds, Indiana as "BioTown USA." The goal is for Indiana citizens to underwrite, subsidize, and otherwise pay for the White County town to become a big user of an energy source that grows all around Reynolds - corn. A later phase of the project is planning to use something else that is plentiful around Reynolds - animal waste.

Now comes word from the Indianapolis Star that gas stations in eight Indiana communities have received $1,000.00 grants to convert one pump to E85 fuel. One of those gas stations is in Fort Wayne.

City gas station gets grant to offer E85 fuel

INDIANAPOLIS -- One gas station in Indianapolis is among eight that will receive grants to offer E85 fuel -- a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Joe's Junction No. 9 at 2210 Kentucky Ave. will receive $1,000, as will stations in Bargersville, Columbus, Etna Green, Fort Wayne, Trafalgar and Wakarusa.
Three of the stations -- in Bargersville, Etna Green and Wakarusa -- already have E85 pumps. Once the others come online, 11 in Indiana will offer the clean-burning fuel.
The grant money comes from the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, part of the Department of Energy's Clean Cities Program. (Star report from its October 8, 2005 Morning Briefing.
Now, there are a few unknowns about the Reynolds BioTown project. Like, oh, how much its going to cost. Charlie Van Voorst, head of the Reynolds Town Board of Trustees was reported in a story appearing in the Ball State Daily News to have said that he didn't know how much the price tag will turn out to be.

Voorst added:
"It’s all a learning situation," he said. "Hopefully, the town will benefit with lower utility costs and lower gas costs."
Hope springs eternal. But whatever the costs savings may turn out for Reynolds there will be costs socialized far beyond White County.

Reporter Abby Leitz of the Monticello Herald-Journal expanded on the unknowns facing Reynolds in her report on this week's Town Board Meeting which ran the gamut from discussing BioTown to setting the date for this year's Halloween Trick or Treating.

Leitz reported on some of the costs that won't be socialized outside of Reynolds - such as the cost of converting vehicles to run on E85 fuels. However, General Motors, as it turns out, is standing by to lend a helping hand. She first quotes Andy Miller, Director of the Sate of Indiana's Department of Agriculture. Then Van Voorst explains more about the project.
“At some point in the next six months, Reynolds will be one of the highest percentage towns in hopefully all of America,” Miller said at the White County 4-H Fairgrounds last month of putting residential vehicles on E-85.

VanVoorst explained that there is little presently known about how the transition will take place, what it will cost and specific details, but he assured town residents present at Tuesday night’s council meeting that General Motors — who is partnering with the state on the BioTown initiative — is committed to helping Reynolds achieve the goal set before them.

“I believe (GM) are going to make it so Reynolds is able to use this fuel - I really do,” VanVoorst said. “They’re really trying to make this work for us, make it affordable for the people of Reynolds.”

It was previously announced that GM would raffle off E-85 compatible vehicles to several Reynolds residents and also work out an incentive program so residents could affordably make the switch to E-85 cars and trucks.
None of these unknowns or cost-shifting deterred Fort Wayne's News-Sentinel from waxing enthusiastically about BioTown USA in an editorial brief from September 15.
The state has an intriguing goal for Reynolds, a small town in northwest Indiana, which it hopes will become BioTown, USA. The plan is for the town and its some 550 residents to be among the nation’s first communities powered entirely by agricultural-based fuels. A gas pump selling the ethanol-blend fuel E85 could be operational by the first of the year, which will be used to power the town government’s three vehicles, and hopes are that town residents also would use the corn-based fuel. Later phases of the plan include using other bioenergy sources — including methane gas — to power electrical generators and heat homes, officials said. The alternative energy sources will come in part from animal waste gathered from local livestock farms. State officials said farms within a 15-mile radius of Reynolds have some 150,000 hogs.

Energy is going to be an increasing challenge in years to come, and every experiment will help. As much agricultural output as Indiana produces, a bioenergy experiment makes a lot of sense here.

One can only imagine how excited the News-Sentinel will become over the $1,000.00 grant for its hometown.

Related story: Journal-Gazette editorialists waxing enthusiastically on October 1 about increased school spending for something other than education.

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