Two years ago, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels came to the small farm town of Reynolds to christen it BioTown, USA. The goal: to attract bioenergy companies and set an example by fueling the town’s cars, homes and businesses with cheap, environmentally friendly energy.
“This is America’s first BioTown in the making,” Daniels declared in front of about 300 people at the fairgrounds, deep in the state’s northwestern corn country. But like dozens of U. S. farm towns counting on bioenergy to revitalize their economies, Reynolds is now learning a tough lesson about the difficulties alternative fuels face. Last month, VeraSun Energy Corp. announced it was stopping construction on an ethanol plant nearby.
“I think this has made everyone a little nervous,” said Janice Farrell, manager of a BP gas station in Reynolds that features ethanol fuel pumps. Her lunch-time food sales had jumped since last spring when construction workers from the ethanol site started coming in. Recently, her revenue has dropped by $ 1, 000 a week.