May 29, 2012U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow visits Alpena Biorefinery, May 29, 2012

Source: The Alpena News
Youtube: Washington's Watching

ALPENA - U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow paid a visit to the Alpena Biorefinery on Tuesday to discuss its local significance and broader implications for the future of the alternative energy industry , having championed legislation to combine Michigan's agriculture and manufacturing industries as chair of the Agriculture Committee.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow visiting Alpena Biorefinery
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow visiting Alpena Biorefinery

Almost four years after Decorative Panels International and American Process, Inc. announced plans to build a refinery to convert DPI's wastewater into an ethanol fuel, the biorefinery is almost ready to start producing a cellulosic biofuel for use as motor fuel and an agent for de-icing runways, among other possibilities. Stabenow said the $28 million project is a groundbreaking model for the country's alternative energy effort, a product of years of research and legislation aimed at expanding biofuel innovations, and a job creator that puts Alpena at the crux of Michigan's two largest industries.

"We've had a lot of folks working on this around Michigan, around the country, but in Alpena, Mich., we will have the very first cellulosic ethanol plant operation. New, advanced biofuels right here in Alpena, and that's a pretty big deal," she said.

DPI President Tim Clark said the partnership with American Process was an ideal alternative to waste treatment for DPI, and American Process CEO Dr. Theodora Retsina expects Stabenow to have been the first of many professional visitors.

"This is supposed to be a showplace where other people from the same industry can come as well as other people trying to make products. It's going to be an open research and development plant for people to visit, everything from workforce development to other people who are trying to start similar industries to customers here and from oversees to be able to replicate the technology, export the technology, and strengthen the continuous innovation," she said, adding that legislation like Stabenow's "Grow It Here, Make It Here" initiative and its series of farm bills and incentives help the industry by providing the stability it needs to gain traction.

"This is a tremendous technological innovation, and us and all of our other companies that are working in this space, we're all in this together to make this change for our country, but it takes a long time," she said. "By the time the technology is developed, matured, financed, and built, we're talking about cycles that are easily four or five years."

"For the first time I can say, honestly, we are beyond the research ... We are now in production stage, so what (producers) have to know is that the rug is not going to be pulled out from under them as it relates to the fuel standards and the tax cuts that are in place to help them," she said. read more