Sunoco Ribbon Cutting offers Fresh Start

By Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine

This past week, Sunoco celebrated the opening of its Fulton Ethanol Facility in the town of Volney. The fuel company has made a $25 million investment in the former Miller Brewing Company plant to pick up where the former Northeast Biofuels had done a great deal of work to convert from brewing beer to producing fuel. It’s a much needed fresh start for this facility.

Certainly, I was one of many who had grown optimistic when a team of local entrepreneurs had the vision to return that site to productivity as an economic engine in Oswego County. Though Northeast Biofuels itself had to sell its venture, Sunoco has stepped in and now, the facility employs 60 people and will supply more than 85 million gallons of ethanol to meet about 20 percent of the company’s needs as a fuel additive.

The company’s Chief Executive Officer Lynn Elsenhans and everyone from Sunoco’s management team have already shown their commitment to the community and this facility. That’s important. This new investment not only means good paying jobs, but a link to agriculture that will only be enhanced by the company’s desire to buy local corn first.

Ethanol is an important part of the solution when we talk about energy independence and more environmentally sound fuel sources. It is a link between our state’s number one industry in agriculture and perhaps our country’s number one need for economic security in energy. Be it corn or switchgrass for ethanol, soy for biodiesel or another crop to replace the fossil fuels we import, this facility holds a great deal of promise for the future.

As a state we produce around 70 million bushels of corn each year, and although this plant will go through 30 million bushels of corn meaning the bulk of its supplies will come from the midwest, this is real economic growth and job creation beyond the ethanol plant. The brewers grains leftover will be supplied as a low cost feed alternative, helping our farms continue to support our economy, and the carbon dioxide will go to the Linde cryogenic facility next door.

These are the kinds of jobs we need in Upstate New York, especially in Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties. This past week the governor signed legislation I sponsored to help grow alternative energy storage systems that use flywheel or compressed air technology. These systems take energy produced in off peak times and use it to generate electricity again during peak demand periods to help meet our needs. This is a technology that now will help create new jobs for our young people with a promising future.

There is still more work to be done to improve the economy and get people back to work. However, each little bit helps. As I told economic development groups in a meeting this past week as well, I will continue working to foster a better business climate and that includes pushing for a permanent program to replace Power for Jobs. Because every job, from Birdseye Foods in Fulton and Corning Inc. in Canton to the local diners and corner stores, is extremely important.