A Colwich bio-refinery plant has announced expansion plans, and officials briefed Sedgwick County commissioners on Tuesday of their intentions.
ICM, which manages ethanol plants and does research and development on ethanol production processes, bought the Abengoa Bioenergy plant in Colwich last fall. ICM, which has its headquarters in Colwich, has 102 domestic ethanol plants and six internationally, Jason Friedberg, ICM director of business analysis, said in Tuesday’s presentation.
Now, ICM intends to expand the plant, which will require Sedgwick County to improve West 61st Street North and 167th Street West near Colwich, a project estimated to cost $1 million. The Colwich plant employs more than 250 people in the Colwich area, 24 of whom live in Colwich. The new expansion is estimated to bring an additional 50 jobs.
Friedberg said the company has had conversations with the city of Colwich, the Greater Wichita Partnership and the K-96 Corridor Development Association.
“We are still in the developing phase,” Friedberg said.
“What the study found — the area can support a 70 million-gallon-per-year ethanol plant. Our grain and ethanol pricing is very competitive with plants in Iowa. If we were going to build a plant, we wanted it to be equipped with the latest technology offerings.”
Friedberg said the plant would produce low-carbon ethanol and cellulosic ethanol.
The plant is estimated to bring in 95 trucks a day during the non-harvest months of January through August, and more than 200 during the harvest months of October through December.
Friedberg said the Colwich plant was one of the oldest ethanol plants in the nation and needed upgrades. The plant was operated by High Plains Energy for about 20 years until it was bought in 2001 by Spanish alternative energy giant Abengoa.
If all goes as planned, the expansion should be completed by summer 2018.
Because the ICM plans were presented during a staff meeting Tuesday, no action was taken by the Sedgwick County Commission.