First of planned quarterly meetings held in Iowa by DuPont

By Holly Jessen | October 10, 2013

A Community Advisory Panel meeting held Oct. 8 in Nevada, Iowa, brought together about 50 people, including local government officials, economic development and business representatives, area residents, emergency service workers, corn producers and those with environmental interests. The company, which is building a cellulosic ethanol plant there, plans to hold the meetings quarterly. “Its purpose is to serve as a sounding board for cellulosic facility, which is currently under construction and scheduled to be completed at the end of next year,” said Mark Edelman, meeting facilitator. Once fully operational the $200 million facility will produce 30 MMgy from corn stover.

Steven Mirshak, business director for cellulosic ethanol at DuPont, told Ethanol Producer Magazine the inaugural meeting went well and included vigorous discussion. “They had excellent questions about our stover collection and storage process as well as the future plant operations,” he said. “It's apparent this group is interested and engaged with our cellulosic ethanol technology and we look forward to many more conversations with the community.”

Edelman, who has more than 30 years of experience as a professor of economics and extension specialist in agricultural policy analysis, said he was impressed with DuPont’s foresight in being proactive in addressing possible community concerns. Hosting the meeting allows for frank, two-way communication and learning on both sides. “If there are concerns that bubble up in community conversations or amongst producers this provides an opportunity, in an open forum, to bring those questions and concerns and raise them so that DuPont can respond in a way that informs and educate folks on how they are approaching various issues,” he said, adding that he thought it was a good model for other cellulosic ethanol project developers to use.

Representatives of DuPont spent about 45 minutes providing attendees with background information, such as stover collection efforts to-date, a construction update and more. Edelman also went through a process to identify topics of conversation at future meetings and, through a poll, concluded that attendees were interested in a plant tour before construction is completed.