Western New York Energy, operator of an ethanol facility in Medina, N.Y., has adapted operations to supply distillers, manufacturing, technology, and personal care corporations across the Northeast and Canada with ethanol to produce 80% antiseptic alcohol sanitizer amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The plant is producing over 100,000 gallons a day of tech-grade ethanol for businesses that halted operations to meet the urgent sanitizer needs of hospitals and at-risk communities. WNY Energy generates over 60-million gallons of biofuel annually, using 20-million bushels of corn. The $90-million facility was the first biofuel company in the northeastern U.S.
Tim Winters, WNYE president and CEO, said on April 13, “Along with New York’s corn growers, WNY Energy has been proud to supply ethanol to the distilleries and companies that first responded to the alarming lack of sanitizer due to COVID-19. And while many upstream chemicals used in sanitizer products are manufactured in China, WNYE has also established a manufacturing and distribution network that will exponentially increase the production of antiseptic sanitizers made from our farmers’ corn. All the sanitizer and sanitizer products will be made in Western New York and the United States.” Winters emphasized, “We could do none of this without support from farmers, our partners for the past 13 years. Corn ethanol is the key ingredient in making 80% antiseptic sanitizer.”
Colleen Klein, NY Corn and Soybean Growers Association executive director, said, “WNY Energy is a respected industry partner and a critically important, reliable market for our corn growers. In usual circumstances, our crop is used in the Medina facility to make clean, renewable fuel but these are not usual circumstances. We applaud WNYE’s ability to pivot and provide needed sanitation resources while maintaining the market for our growers during uncertain times.”
Jim Whipple, Orleans County IDA CEO, said, “WNY Energy has become one of the most important industries in Orleans County and New York State. The economics tied to the operation not only support local farmers but WNYE is the largest taxpayer in Orleans County. It’s important that products made in farm communities be given purchasing priority in times like this.” Winters and 50 employees produce ethanol 24/7 using hydroelectric power from Niagara Falls. The renewable energy reduces the GHG footprint for every gallon, earning WNYE an EP3 designation from the EPA.