Southern Ohio alternative energy development

Final Report for CNE07-035

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2007: $9,652.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Northeast
State: Ohio
Project Leader:
John Hemmings
Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission
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Project Information


The Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission’s (OVRDC’s) Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) project entitled “Southern Ohio Alternative Energy Development” consists of two objectives. First, our project includes planning and conducting a comprehensive renewable energy seminar for the southern Ohio region. The seminar is targeted at farmers, chambers of commerce, economic development staff, saw mills, lumber yards, and other small businesses. The seminar will include presentations on all the major renewable fuel sources as well as presentations about possible grant, loan, and venture capital sources available for renewable energy. A survey assessment of the level of interest by farms, sawmills, and others in pursuing renewable energy options will be conducted at the seminar. There will also be some follow-up technical assistance provided for those who attended the seminar. Secondly, the project includes two field visits for 20-30 business/farmers who are interested in more detailed information about significant renewable fuel sources in the state of Ohio. One field visit will be planned with a bio-diesel manufacturer (Peter Cremer) in the Cincinnati area and the other field visit will be planned with a fuel cell manufacturer (Technology Management, Inc.) in the Cleveland area.

Project Objectives:
  • Contact major alternative energy speakers for seminar and check schedules- July 2007

    Schedule date for Seminar and secure speaker commitments – August 2007

    Develop promotional material and begin promotional campaign – September 2007

    Make final arrangements and conduct Seminar – October-November 2007

    Conduct survey assessment at seminar of participating farmers, sawmills and other major waste generators in exploring alternative energy markets – October 2007- November 2007

    Follow-up technical assistance will be offered by staff of OVRDC and OSU South Centers to address questions and assistance after the Seminar (referrals will be made to alternative energy specialists as necessary)- November 2007- June 2008

    Plan a field visit to two locations and briefings for those producers/businesses interested (20-30 attendants) – December 2007

    Advertise and inform farmers/wood operators/economic development professionals of the field visit – December 2007

    Conduct field visits to Peter Cremer facility in Cincinnati and Technology Management, Inc. in Cleveland – January 2008 – February 2008


The 12-county OVRDC target area of southern Ohio is primarily an economically distressed rural and small town region. Out of our 11 Appalachian counties: 2 are designated distressed and 5 are designated as at-risk in the 2007 designation by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). One of the most significant problems to be addressed is to raise the incomes and create more job possibilities for a region with low per capita income and with average salaries in all sectors running significantly lower than the state and national averages. This project was an opportunity to make the residents of our counties more aware of the job opportunities available in the field of alternative energy.

These trends are true of the farm sector with farm size and farm income being significantly less than state averages. According to the 2002 Agriculture Census, total cropland acres harvested for OVRDC region was 883,506 acres (11 percent of Ohio). The market value of agricultural products sold in 2002 for the region was 248,518,000 (17 percent of Ohio). However the market value per farm is almost 50 percent less in the region compared to Ohio ($26,018 compared to $50,462). In addition, one of the small farm cash crops, burley tobacco, is being undermined by decreasing demand and the loss of quotas.

OVRDC’s major partner in this project, OSU South Centers, which is part of the state extension service, has been working to educate farmers to develop more interest in specialty crops such as berries and herbs as well as aqua culture and the production of fresh water shrimp. Some progress has been made, but there is no significant production in these crops. This project was used to make farmers and individuals in the agriculture sector aware of the cost- and planet-saving measures that sustainable energy has to offer.

One of the other major resources of the area has been hardwood and the region has significant numbers of sawmills and lumber producers. OVRDC has focused on the lumber industry for several years and one of the significant problems is that much of the lumber is shipped out as logs or green undried lumber with very little value added and we are, therefore, missing some of the potential increased income and jobs that could be developed. One of the other problems of this industry is that generally they are not getting much value out of their wood waste (sawdust, chips, less desirable wood). This project may address this issue by identifying better alternatives for this waste, thus helping to increase the income potential for this sector.


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Daniel Corcoran
  • Paul Fuhrmann
  • Keith Gregory
  • Kim Harless
  • Aaron Lemaster
  • Bill Richards
  • Tom Snyder
  • Jeff Spencer
  • Nolan Staker
  • Alan Welch
  • Tom Worley


Materials and methods:

OVRDC’s Executive Director formed a planning committee of 2 OSU staff and 2 OVRDC staff for organizing the Renewable Energy Conference and field trips.

The Southern Ohio community was reached in two ways. First, a Conference was organized in order to bring discussion of renewable energy to a place that was convenient and comfortable to the community. The Conference served as an introduction to renewable energy. Then, a field visit to two different renewable energy-centered locations was organized. This allowed Southern Ohioans to see renewable energy being produced and used in places not so different from their own homes and business, in the hope that they would bring the ideas and techniques home with them. In addition, a survey of farmers and lumber industry representatives gave a glimpse at their views on renewable energy in the region.

Research results and discussion:

Planning for the Southern Ohio Renewable Energy Conference was completed from May-October 2007. Planning activities included contacting and securing speakers, scheduling date/time/place, developing promotional material, beginning the promotional campaign, and making all the necessary arrangements for the conference.

The Southern Ohio Renewable Energy Conference was held on November 14, 2007 at the Comfort Inn in Piketon, Ohio with 67 people in attendance. Due to the limited amount of farmers, sawmills, and other major waste generators, a survey assessment at the seminar was not completed. Our audience included mostly public officials, federal and state agency representatives, chambers of commerce representatives, economic development organizations, and entrepreneurs interested in renewable energy. We only had three attendees identified as involved in farming or sawmilling. OSU South Centers promoted the conference to an extensive list of farmers and sawmills in their database, and OVRDC sent the promotional material to Ohio Farm Bureau to distribute as they saw fit to their members.

Follow-up with technical assistance has been offered to one community (Village of Georgetown) and one individual (Ed Lykins), both of which attended the Conference. The technical assistance to the Village of Georgetown in relation to their methane-to-electric facility actually occurred before the conference.

Even though a survey assessment at the November 14, 2007 Southern Ohio Renewable Energy Conference was not completed, the Southern Ohio Alternative Energy Survey has been used to not only fulfill the planned goals of the project to complete a survey but also to raise awareness of the field visits in spring 2009. By attending the Wood Valued-added workshop, many surveys were distributed and information about the field visits was spread.

The field visits gave the Southern Ohio community- farmers, wood operators, small businesses, and educators- a chance to see first hand the opportunities that alternative energy offer. Ryan McCall, a Dean of Southern State Community College, and Wyndan Skye, a local entrepreneur in the energy field, were both in attendance.

Participation Summary

Education & Outreach Activities and Participation Summary

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:
  1. A pamphlet was created for the Seminar

    A promotional flyer was created for the field visits

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

On May 7, 2007, John Hemmings conducted the initial planning meeting with staff from the Ohio State University South Centers and the Ohio Cooperative Development Center for the Southern Ohio Alternative Energy Conference. The date, time, and place of the event were discussed and the preliminary agenda was critiqued. It was decided at this planning meeting to change the name of the conference to the “Southern Ohio Renewable Energy Conference”.

On August 13, 2007, John Hemmings and Jeff Spencer conducted the second planning meeting with staff from the Ohio State University South Centers and the Ohio Cooperative Development Center to further discuss progress on planning the Renewable Energy Conference. The location of the conference was selected, the preliminary agenda was modified, and an update on efforts to secure speakers was given. The initial flyer promoting the event was also critiqued for final mailing to interested parties.

On August 27, 2007, John Hemmings participated in the Green Energy Meeting held by the Village of Georgetown at the Rumpke Landfill in Georgetown. Rumpke and the Village of Georgetown, in conjunction with Duke Energy, are discussing the possibility of constructing a methane-to-electric facility whereby methane gas from the landfill would power generators that would produce electric power. The project would cost about $3.3 to $4.0 million. The village is seeking grant or loan assistance to pursue this project.

During the month of September 2007, John Hemmings and Shannon Nichols worked on completing and mailing the final flyer for the Southern Ohio Renewable Energy Conference. On September 7, 2008, John Hemmings conducted the final planning meeting with staff from the Ohio State University South Centers and the Ohio Cooperative Development Center regarding the conference. Discussion centered on finalizing speakers and critiquing the final brochure for the event.

During the month of October 2007, John Hemmings continued planning for the Southern Ohio Renewable Energy Conference. John finalized the agenda, secured the keynote speaker, finalized and mailed the final brochure promoting the event, and worked to promote the event in order to increase attendance.

On October 29, 2007, John Hemmings and Jeff Spencer attended the Appalachian Ohio Energy Economic Development Summit in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, which was co-sponsored by the Appalachian Regional Commission, Senator George Voinovich’s office, the Governor’s Office of Appalachia, the Office of the Governor’s Energy Advisor, and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. The summit provided the opportunity for leaders in Appalachia to identify strategic opportunities in energy development for economic development and growth. OVRDC worked closely with this group so as to not duplicate efforts in promoting renewable energy. This event focused on the economic development impact of renewable energy while our conference was to introduce local citizens and officials to some of the different types of renewable energy resources.

On November 14, 2007, OVRDC held, in conjunction with OSU South Centers and the Ohio Cooperative Development Center, its Southern Ohio Renewable Energy Conference at the Comfort Inn in Piketon, Ohio. A total of 67 people attended the conference which featured sessions about viable renewable energy options for southern Ohio, biomass inventory in Ohio, corn-based ethanol and biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol, and woody biomass. The conference also featured a panel of state and federal officials speaking about financing that is available for renewable energy projects in Ohio. The keynote speaker for the event was Rick Peltz, ARC Alternate Federal Co-Chairman. The event was a great success with mostly positive feedback on the evaluations.

On January 30, 2008, John Hemmings met with Ed Lykins, who attended the Southern Ohio Renewable Energy Conference, to provide follow-up technical assistance. Mr. Lykins has developed a soybean press to produce bio-diesel but needs to add components to his press to separate the glycerin from the bio-diesel he is producing. Glycerin in the bio-diesel causes it to gel in cold temperatures thus reducing it effectiveness as a bio-fuel. John discussed Mr. Lykins looking into the Entrepreneurial Signature Program, however, Mr. Lykins had already met with an individual from that program. John indicated he would keep Mr. Lykins posted of any programs that he could take advantage of in the future.

In February 2008, John Hemmings began work to plan and schedule the two field visits. John sent an email to individuals at both Nexsol Biodiesel in Cincinnati and Technology Management (Fuel cell) in Cleveland. No response was received from the Nexsol Biodiesel Facility and the Technology Management (Fuel Cell) Facility responded stating that they were not equipped to handle a large group visit. Our plans were to conduct the field visit in mid-March and early April 2008. With the planting season upon us and the need for a new plan of action, we felt that attracting farmers to participate in any events past mid-April would be unsuccessful. Work ceased on planning and scheduling the field visits.

In May 2008, John Hemmings emailed David Holm, our SARE contact to request an extension for our project in order to plan, schedule, and conduct the field visits. Mr. Holm indicated that an extension was possible but in order for SARE to approve it, the Annual Report would need to be completed. The Annual Report was completed and submitted on June 20, 2008 and our extension was granted. The following represents changes to the scope of work and the timeline for completion that the extension afforded OVRDC:
• Conduct survey assessment of farmers, sawmills and other major waste generators in exploring alternative energy markets – October 2008- March 2009
• Plan a field visit to two locations and briefings for those producers/businesses interested (20-30 attendants) – November 2008- December 2008
• Advertise and inform farmers/wood operators/economic development professionals of the field visit – January 2009-February 2009
• Conduct field visit to Peter Cremer facility in Cincinnati and Dull Homestead farm near Cincinnati – April 2009
• Complete Final Report – June 2009

In August 2008, Dan Yarmesch developed a Southern Ohio Alternative Energy Survey. It was designed to gauge the awareness and interest of Southern Ohio farmers and wood industry individuals in both supplying and using alternative energy. Due to the limited amount of farmers, sawmills, and other major waste generators, a survey assessment at the November 14, 2007 Southern Ohio Renewable Energy Conference was not completed. With the extension of the grant period, OVRDC had the opportunity to complete this survey after the conference and in a one-on-one fashion as staff met with and spoke with farmers and wood industry representatives individually. A total of three surveys were completed.

On August 1, 2008, Dan Yarmesch and John Hemmings met with Tom Worley, Tom Snyder, and OSU South Centers staff to discuss the field visit portion and survey portion of the SARE grant. Due to the nature of the farming profession, the field visits were to be scheduled in either late October or early April. It was decided that Dan Yarmesch would contact the Dull Homestead and the Twin Rivers Biofuel plant to arrange the field visits. Opportunities to distribute the survey were also discussed.

On August 13, 2008, Dan Yarmesch attended a Wood Value-added workshop at the OSU South Centers in Piketon, Ohio. Presenters focused on the challenges facing the wood industry in the current economy and the way adding value could solve some of them. The workshop concluded with field visits to John McCoy’s lumber operation and Pennington’s Cedar Works wood pellet plant. Dan Yarmesch gained some contacts to potentially give the SARE survey to and received some input as to what kind of alternative energy resources wood industry professionals were currently using.

On September 17, 2008, OVRDC staff attended the Ohio State Farm Science Review with Tom Snyder of the Ohio Cooperative Development Center. Staff familiarized themselves with many alternative energy products available to farmers and wood industry operators such as wind turbines, wood waste boilers for supply energy, biodiesel fuel, solar panels, and shifting your operation to more conservation-focused practices. Staff also learned about the challenges that are unique to Southern Ohio small business owners from the many Ohio State University agriculture economics presenters such as higher food prices due to limited competition, more fuel expenditures as opposed to urban competitors, and smaller local markets.

Throughout September 2008, Dan Yarmesch continued to contact and research possible sites for the field visits.

In October 2008, Dan Yarmesch contacted both Dull Homestead and Peter Cremer, the firm that operates the Twin Rivers Biofuel plant. As Twin Rivers is only available for tours in the spring, and Dull Homestead has a flexible schedule, it was decided that the field visits would occur in April of 2009. Dan updated Dull Homestead on the OVRDC’s plans for the field visits in the spring and began researching local competitive coach companies.

In December 2008, Dan Yarmesch received a price quote from Nobel Tours of Laurelville, Ohio and scheduled a tentative date for field visits.

In February 2009, Dan Yarmesch created a flyer to help advertise the field visits. A definite date (April 13, 2009) was also established with the two sites for the field visits. The flyer to advertise the field visits was finalized and distributed with the help of OSU South Centers. Throughout March 2009, Dan Yarmesch continued to prepare for the field visits.

On April 13, 2009, Dan Yarmesch and Sherrie Lanier of OVRDC led a field visit to Dull Homestead and the Peter Cremer-Twin Rivers Biodiesel plant. There were 6 attendees. Dull Homestead featured a discussion and presentation of alternative energy uses on modern farms, including a working display of an ethanol-run engine. The Biodiesel plant had a PowerPoint demonstration that detailed the history and operation of Peter Cremer North America. They also allowed the group to tour their facilities. An Enterprise rental van was used in place of Nobel Tours due to the level of interest in the visits not being high enough to merit coach service.

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

Potential Contributions

The project has had a significant impact on public awareness of the capabilities of modern renewable energy. It also assisted local community colleges, small businesses, and farmers, in establishing and maintaining strategic relationships to advance agribusiness in our region. For example, the Dean of the local community college that attended the field visit hopes to use the information presented to develop a curriculum for those wishing to pursue a career in operating and maintaining alternative energy-run machinery.

Future Recommendations

Renewable energy is an ever-changing, ever-innovating field. As fossil fuels continue to be depleted, the search for, and use of, renewable energy will only increase in importance. The project has made a good first step in making Southern Ohioans aware of the possibilities now available. However, as those possibilities continue to evolve and grow, it may behoove development agencies to make renewable energy conferences an annual occurrence.

Future efforts by OVRDC that have been encouraged by this project are the provision of renewable energy and energy efficient upgrades for infrastructure within some of our small communities throughout the region. This will be accomplished by pursuing federal and/or state grant resources to assist various small communities in the near future.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.