WisBusiness: DNR Approves Sparta ethanol permit

By Gregg Hoffmann

SPARTA – The Department of Natural Resources has issued a permit for construction and initial operation of a controversial ethanol plant proposed for Sparta.

DNR officials said emissions from the plant will meet regulatory standards. The DNR held a public hearing April 26 on the permit application from Coulee Area Renewable Energy LLC (CARE), which plans to build and operate the ethanol facility.

The plant has been the subject of a legal battle and controversy. Century Foods officials argue emissions from the ethanol plant will contaminate the company’s milk-based products and endanger employees’ jobs. Some other area residents have argued it would create air-quality problems.

Century officials have called the building of the ethanol plant the “beginning of the end“ for their company in Sparta.

The Sparta City Council voted June 26 to annex the 82-acre proposed ethanol plant site and to approve an ordinance change related to the project.

Rezoning the ethanol plant site from agricultural to manufacturing will be considered July 16 by the City Planning Commission and July 17 by the City Council.

Final city approval could come in August, when the commission and council are expected to consider a conditional-use permit for the ethanol plant.

CARE officials say the estimated $115 million ethanol plant would create 35 to 40 full-time jobs. It would produce about 55 million gallons of ethanol a year from 20 million to 22 million bushels of corn.