Carlisle planners OK $10M biofuels project

The Carlisle Planning Commission recently approved zoning changes for Agro BioFuels and BioEnergy Inc. to enable construction of a green energy production facility to make biodiesel products from agricultural byproducts at the Carlisle Business Park.

Gerry Smith, of Miller Valentine Group, said the more than $10 million project includes building the 6,800-square-foot plant on 10 acres near the end of Business Parkway. He said it will be the first facility of its kind in Ohio and at full capacity, it would be able to produce about 15 million gallons of biofuel a year.

Biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning replacement for diesel that is made from a diverse mix of feed stocks, including recycled cooking oil, soybean oil, used greases, other agricultural residue, and animal fats. Biofuels are emerging as a promising green solution to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels, address challenges related to climate change, bolster national security and reduce trade deficits, according to the company.

He said Miller Valentine Group will design and build the facility.

“The property purchase is pending regulatory reviews, but the goal is to open by next summer,” Smith said. “I think it’s going to be a great project.”

Village Manager Sherry Callahan told this news outlet that the Carlisle Business Park’s proximity to the Norfolk Southern rail line was an important factor that attracted Agro to that site in the village.

Callahan said the project’s re-zoning will be considered by Carlisle Village Council at an upcoming meeting. She said the bioenergy production plant will create 25 to 30 new jobs and a $1.5 million payroll.

The company said that the new plant is expected to impact another 75 to 100 jobs related to transportation, vendors, and other ancillary services.

According to the company’s website, Agro Biofuels and BioEnergy is a joint venture between Sim Agro Inc. and JatroDiesel along with other individual investors. Sim Agro Inc is the U.S. arm of well-established company in India called Agro Pulping Machinery Pvt., Ltd. that has been supplying clean pulping systems for pulp and paper industry

Karthik Raghavan, CEO of Agro BioFuels and BioEnergy, said the plan is now to submit its application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to meet its Oct. 1 deadline. He said if all goes to plan, construction could begin in March with production starting in late summer. It would also mean that the operations in Mason would be moved to Carlisle.

“Biodiesel is chemically similar to petroleum-based diesel,” Raghavan said. “Unlike ethanol which needs to be blended with petroleum, this is 100 percent usable to engines that are designed to use it.”

Raghavan said the rail access at the Carlisle site was an important factor but said it would not be available for at least a year after the new facility is constructed and operating.