Global Renewable LLC’s proposal for a $275 million ethanol plant in Sharon is dead.
Jeffery Knight, principal of the plant’s now-defunct Whitewater-based developer, said after years of waiting for the economy and the ethanol industry to recover, he will wait no longer.
“It’s a great site,” he said. “It’s the best location in the world for an ethanol plant, and there’s always the potential for an economic turnaround, but if a plant happens, somebody else will do it. And it will be our loss and somebody else’s gain.”
Global Renewable proposed the project in 2006, and secured land, contracts with oil companies and much of the financing for the project, Knight said. The project was intended to produce 120 million gallons of ethanol per year and be one of the state’s largest ethanol producers.
But Knight said when the economy began to sputter in 2008 and ethanol plants around the country started seeking bankruptcy protection, lenders backed out.
“You’ve got an abundant source of corn there, you’re right near the highway, you’re near water and you’ve got rail nearby,” he said. “It’s an extremely efficient site, but it doesn’t matter if you’re efficient or not — if other plants are in bankruptcy, that’s it.”
After economic challenges surfaced in 2008, Global Renewable backed off its original timeline to have the plant operational by 2009, but company representatives said they still planned to build the plant.
Village President Diana Dykstra said Knight told her many months ago the company was awaiting financing and intended to build the project.
“He was very helpful and it was a situation that was easy to understand,” she said. “I got the impression things weren’t going very well. It’s saddening to hear the plan’s off the table, but it’s not real surprising.
“We still had our fingers crossed, though.”
The reason for that, Dykstra said, is because the village ran into its own developmental problems after Global Renewable introduced its plans. The village, at a cost of $900,000, bought 44 acres adjacent to the planned ethanol plant site, expecting the plant to spur development of a business park.
That has not happened, Dykstra said, and now Sharon residents are stuck paying taxes on the land.
The village also built a retention pond near the development site, and planned for a state grant of $600,000 to cover the cost.
“But then we found out we weren’t getting that grant,” she said, “so we also had to finance that project ourselves.”
The village is still trying to woo developers and Dykstra said some have expressed interest in building on the site, but there are no commitments.
Knight said Global Renewable was dissolved in December. He said company executives are seeking interest from other developers in the 187 acres the company held for the ethanol project. He said he might consider another project on the site, but it will not be ethanol-related.
“That’s off the table,” he said. “You never know what will happen in the future, but right now, the Global Renewable plan is dead.”