Community advisory panel involved with ethanol plant

More than 30 central Iowa residents including business leaders, farmers, conservationists and educators will participate in the inaugural meeting of the nation's first Community Advisory Panel (CAP) related to a cellulosic biofuel facility on Oct. 8, in Nevada, Iowa, it was announced by DuPont this week.

Construction is currently underway at DuPont's commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facility in Nevada. Once fully operational, the facility will produce 30 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year. Expected to be completed in the second half of 2014, this more than $200 million facility will be among the first and largest commercial-scale cellulosic biorefineries in the world.

To supply the corn stover for its plant, DuPont will contract with more than 500 local farmers to gather, store and deliver over 375,000 dry tons of stover per year into the Nevada facility. In addition to the estimated 60 full-time plant operations jobs, there will be over 150 individuals involved in the collection, stacking, transportation and storage of the stover feedstock seasonally during each harvest. The stover will be collected from an approximate 30 mile radius around the new facility and harvested off of 190,000 acres.

The CAP is being established to provide an ongoing dialogue between DuPont and the surrounding community; it will meet up to four times each year. Mark Edelman, Ph.D., CAP facilitator, has more than 32 years of experience as a professor of economics and Extension specialist in agricultural policy analysis, community entrepreneurship, and economic development. Edelman also teaches an economic development course and serves as Community Vitality Center Director at Iowa State University. During this inaugural meeting, CAP members will discuss the panel's goals and objectives, and a process for ongoing engagement with the new facility's management team.

DuPont explained that a CAP is a tool for manufacturing companies to learn the interests and concerns of nearby neighbors and community leaders. DuPont asked community leaders in Central Iowa to form this CAP because the company says it values the feedback from the public and unfiltered information from vested interests that the community can provide. 

Edelman said, "There is an ongoing need for dialog between DuPont and community members during construction and operation of the new facility. The CAP members have an opportunity to provide feedback on emerging issues and to provide a measure of accountability for plant management in finding better ways to assure safe operation, environmental stewardship, and enhanced community vitality for everyone's benefit. I anticipate the CAP will be a constructive group with healthy two-way discussions, and serve as a model for other economic development projects on how companies can interact in a positive manner with local leaders, citizens and stakeholders.