There are other fuel additives but they are expensive, state energy commission technical adviser Michael McCormack said. Any new fuel additive needs to be approved and go through an environmental review, he said.
Paul Sebesta, director of the UC Desert Research and Extension Center, and Michael Bazdarich, director of the UC Riverside Forecasting Center, completed a report Monday on the economic feasibility of sugar cane-to-ethanol operations in the Imperial Valley.
Their report shows trial sugar cane harvests in the Valley are 50 percent higher in tonnage and 50 percent higher in sugar per acre than harvests in Louisiana, where sugar cane is a mainstay crop.
McCormack said the state Legislature asked the energy commission to do a costs and benefits study. The Legislature determined it is in the state's best interest to produce ethanol in the state.
Economist Michael Bazdarich said foreign produced ethanol should not offer much competition. Ethanol attracts moisture and needs to be carefully shipped, making the cost of shipping overseas too expensive, he said.
Imperial Bioresources is one local sugar cane-to-ethanol project that plans to expand the Holly Sugar Plant in rural Brawley to include ethanol processing.
According to the Brawley-based Imperial Bioresources owners, Craig Elmore, Larry Fleming and Carson Kalin, the plant will be ready to start processing cane in November 2004. The cost to expand the plant will run well over $100 million.
Another project is the Imperial Valley Sugarcane Growers Association, a grower group formed by Claude Finnell of El Centro and William Batley Jr. of Brawley.
The association is looking for members interested in growing sugar cane and sweet sorghum in the Valley for a new ethanol plant. Arkel Sugar of Baton Rouge, La., is looking to build a sugar cane-to-ethanol plant in the Valley.
>> Contact the Imperial Valley Sugarcane Growers Association at 352-0269 or 213-0097.
>> For more information on the Internet:
U.C. Riverside Forecasting Center: phoenix.ucr.edu/forecast
Arkel Sugar: www.arkel.com
Imperial Bioresources: www.imperialbioresources.com
>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or email@example.com