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Power plant ‘still on hold’

Company website offers no leads while under construction

Published: Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
(Alex T. Paschal/SVM file photo)
W.F. "Duke" Fuehrer, BioPro president, talks about the company's proposed plant in Rock Falls during a May 2011 breakfast meeting at the Rock Falls Chamber of Commerce.

ROCK FALLS – Nearly 4 years after BioPro Power announced its intention to build a power plant in Rock Falls, the company is still looking for a customer.

Sandy Henrekin, the executive director of the Rock Falls Development Corporation, which has worked with BioPro, said nothing has changed with the project.

“There hasn’t been any change,” she said. “The project is still on hold – still waiting to see if they can purchase a power purchase agreement.”

Henrekin has been the point person for the city in dealing with BioPro, City Administrator Robbin Blackert said.

In 2011, W.F. “Duke” Fuehrer, the company’s president, said BioPro planned to hire 30 full-time employees, a dozen or so part-timers, and 80 seasonal employees, but didn’t want to speculate about when the project would start.

A request for comment from Fuehrer wasn’t immediately returned.

Joe McConville, who works in real estate in the Mendota area, had agreed to help BioPro expand into Mendota after it set up in Rock Falls. He said he hasn’t heard from Fuehrer in a while and thinks there were delays in working with the Illinois Department of Commerce.

“I really have heard nothing,” McConville said when asked about BioPro’s status. “So I would guess it’s dead.”

On Wednesday, the BioPro website, www.BioProPower.com, had a message that said, “There are exciting developments going on at BioPro Power and we are updating our website to reflect those changes.”

No further information about the company or its projects was available on the website, which prompted any further inquires to its “contact us” page. However, clicking on the link brought the user to an error page.

BioPro had an option to buy private property, but Henrekin said she was unsure of the status, adding that the backup plan was to lease a parcel owned by the city.

A BioPro plant would take in cornstalk other plant leftovers to convert into fuel, which could potentially be cleaner and more efficient for power generation than fossil fuels.

The construction project was estimated to cost $100 million, and the plant could potentially power 19,000 to 20,000 homes, the company told Sauk Valley Media in 2011.

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