Family seeks county's OK to make their own ethanol
Posted July 22, 2008
Updated October 12, 2011
Oxford, N.C. — Rising prices at the gas pump are forcing people to find alternative ways to fill up their fuel tanks. A Granville County man says his solution is simple: when you can't afford to buy fuel, make it yourself.
Wendell Cifers, his wife and five children live off the land. They grow their own crops and raise their own livestock. One day soon, Cifers is hoping to also produce his own fuel.
“People are doing it across the country,” Cifers said.
Cifers wants to make his own ethanol, and he has built a still that he says will do it. With the national average Tuesday for a gallon of gas at $4.06, according to AAA, Cifers said making it yourself is a no-brainer.
“It (gas prices) is hurting everything. We have to plan trips to town, since we live in the country, to do two or three things before we go,” Cifers said.
There is only one major problem: producing your own ethanol is illegal in Granville County.
“This is the first inquiry that we've had in regard to the production of ethanol at a residence,” County Planner Barry Baker said.
Making your own ethanol would be considered manufacturing an illegal chemical substance under current zoning laws.
Cifers said the same corn used to make fuel can be reused to feed their animals. His wife, Linda, has a federal permit for the still, but she is still waiting for the go-ahead locally.
“It's just costing us more money by having to wait,” she added.
With gas prices high, the Cifers hope their wait is short one.
Baker said it could take four months before the county could legalize backyard ethanol production. Commissioners are also considering allowing homeowners to have solar panels and windmills to generate electricity.