The U.P. might finally be making its entry into the ethanol market, using its most available feedstock: timber fiber.
In late June, state officials announced that a new cellulosic ethanol plant will be built somewhere in Chippewa County to turn wood chips and other tree fiber into ethanol. The facility is expected to cost $250 million, which includes a $15 million grant from the state.
The plant is being built by Mascoma, a Boston-based firm that is developing advanced cellulosic ethanol technologies using various feedstocks. It is expected to be operational in 2012, producing 40 million gallons of ethanol a year and employing 50 people, with additional spinoff jobs for those needed to provide feedstock to the plant. The firm chose Michigan for its first commercial-scale facility based largely on the availability of forest and agricultural materials.
—Ronald A. Wirtz