Sunoco Snips Ribbon To Open Ethanol Plant

Sunoco officials are joined Wednesday by state and local officials to cut the ribbon at their new ethanol plant in Volney.
Sunoco officials are joined Wednesday by state and local officials to cut the ribbon at their new ethanol plant in Volney.

VOLNEY, NY – Sunoco hosted a ceremonial ribbon cutting this afternoon (July 21) to celebrate the grand opening of its ethanol manufacturing facility in Fulton.

“This has been a long journey for a lot of people,” said Bob Owens, Sunoco vice president of marketing. “We’re just delighted to have our ribbon cutting event today.”

After an investment of approximately $25 million and months of capital work, the 100-million-gallon-per-year ethanol manufacturing plant began operations in late June and sold its first shipment of corn-based ethanol on June 30.

The facility directly employs 60 people and sources as much corn from local growers as possible.

“We are pleased to join the Oswego County community and look forward to playing a productive role in the region,” said Lynn Elsenhans, Sunoco chairman and CEO. “Operating this facility and sourcing as much corn as possible from local growers we will contribute to the region’s economy and support the creation of ‘green’ jobs.”

What does the plant mean to the area’s economy?

L. Michael Treadwell, head of Operation Oswego County, the county’s economic development agency, described it as a walk-off grand slam home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game Seven of the World Series.

Lynn Elsenhans, Sunoco chairman and CEO, greets the large crowd on Wednesday.
Lynn Elsenhans, Sunoco chairman and CEO, greets the large crowd on Wednesday.

“This is very, very exciting for Sunoco to recognize the startup of this ethanol facility,” Elsenhans said. “It is also a new business for us in biofuels.”

As the largest ethanol manufacturing facility in the Northeast, where much of Sunoco’s retail gasoline network is located, the plant is uniquely situated to serve much of company’s ethanol requirements.

Treadwell said everyone is “very pleased” Sunoco selected this area for a plant.

“There is so much to say about this project and what it means to Oswego County, Central New York and even New York State,” he said.

He has been in and out of the plant dozens of times during the past year, including one meeting just recently.

“To walk out after that meeting and hear the humming of the equipment and product being made was really like the sound of music or something. It was a really great feeling to hear that,” he said.

He also recognized Northeast Biofuel for attempting to operate the plant. Though they didn’t quite succeed, they laid the groundwork that enabled Sunoco to come in and get the plant running, he pointed out.

“I believe without that group, this could have been a vacant plant still,” he said. “But they kept it alive.”

When running at full capacity, the facility is expected to supply approximately 20 percent of Sunoco’s ethanol needs.

“Let’s hope this plant goes to 200 million gallons a year. And for Sunoco’s sake that that is still 20 percent of your needs,” Treadwell said.

Last month the plant delivered its first shipment of ethanol, Elsenhans noted.

Sunoco looks forward to many years of working with the farmers and others in Oswego County, she added.

Biofuels, she said, will continue to become a larger part of the fuel mix in the nation.

“This certainly is a red letter day in Fulton and Oswego County,” said Sen. Darrell Aubertine. “What we have here, I believe, is an opportunity, a beginning of a greater opportunity; an opportunity certainly for agriculture and the economy of the entire region.”

Assemblyman Will Barclay said he remembered going past the facility years ago after Miller Brewing vacated it.

He said he saw several deer on site and wished there was more activity there than just wildlife.

“We’re thrilled that now Sunoco is here,” he said. “I look forward to working with you for many years to come.”

Barry Leemann, chair of the Oswego County Legislature, welcomed Sunoco to Oswego County and said he hopes they continue to grow here.

“I think their business will continue to grow. The local farmers are extremely happy,” he said.

The money the company’s 60 employees earn “will be spent, a lot of it, in the county. And that’s going to help our county,” the chairman said. “And, I hope they’re going to hire more (employees).”

Volney Town Supervisor Dennis Lockwood welcomed Sunoco and wished them a lot of success.

As a provider of transportation fuels, Sunoco views the successful startup as a first step into the manufacture of alternative fuels, an area of possible growth for the company that it will continue to evaluate.

Sunoco has sold ethanol-blended gasoline for more than a decade.

Elsenhans also cited senators Schumer and Gillibrand who were unable to attend but had supported the project.

Although this is Sunoco’s first entry into the manufacture of alternative fuels, the company has a long history of involvement in that field.

Thomas Golembeski, Sunoco public affairs spokesperson, said it was a great day.

“It’s wonderful that after so much work and investment that the facility is up and running,” he said.

The area was a great location because of its proximity to a large chunk of Sunoco’s retail gasoline operations, he explained.

“We can take the ethanol from this plant and blend it into the gasoline very easily. It is the largest ethanol plant in the northeast United States,” he said.

During the 1990s, Sunoco worked with government and private vehicle fleets to evaluate and test the commercial viability of various alternative transportation fuels, including compressed natural gas, methanol and propane.

Sunoco is headquartered in Philadelphia.


  1. Lets not forget the two local unions, UA Local 73 and IBEW Local 43 , that invested millions of dollars in pension money to get the original project off the ground. With out their commitment, hard work and tenasity to see the origional project through it still would be another empty eye sore in the county.

  2. And let us not forget the ex Northeast Biofuels employees who were deceived by Northeast management and Lurgi, LLC. EX Northeast employees never received a dime while management was receiving their $$$. Where’s Permolex? They quietly left the USA, never to be heard from again. They took the money and ran deceiving once again the tax payers of this community and state. Town of Volney, Oswego County and NYS Attorney General’s office should be investigating Permolex and former Northeast management as to where 4 million dollars went for the employees wages until 2011.

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