Pikeville-based Patriot Bioenergy Corporation has announced it will construct an ethanol plant in Whitley County, creating more than one hundred jobs.
For years now, ethanol has been used as an additive in gasoline to help offset the cost of imported oil.
Ethanol is usually made from corn, which was until recently subsidized by the U.S. Government.
The government stopped issuing corn subsidies last year, which is leading ethanol producers to explore alternatives, including beets.
"What we have been doing over the last eighteen months is looking at the viability of using the beet in Kentucky as a dedicated feed stock for fuel production," says Patriot CEO Roger Ford.
The company already has crops growing in Whitley and Adair counties.
These aren't the typical sort of beets found at the supermarket.
"They'll grow anywhere from a foot and a half to an even larger diameter," explains Ford.
The giant-sized beets contain sugar, which is fermented to produce ethanol.
Ford says beets have some advantages over corn.
"The sugar content would be higher than corn, which makes it a better crop, because you don't have to grow as many acres of it."
Ford is hopeful the new venture will be profitable and good for Kentucky.
Whitley County officials are excited about the announcement as well.
"Patriot's going to create some opportunity for some local farmers in our area that really could make some crop land viable that's not been used for crop purposes in a number of years, and not just viable but profitable," says Whitley County Judge Executive Pat White, Jr.
White says one hundred new jobs is a big reason to celebrate.
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