Local News

Family seeks county's OK to make their own ethanol

Posted July 22, 2008
Updated October 12, 2011

— 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.


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  • greentara Jul 23, 2008

    This is why mountain people, in general, hate the government. They tax us and try to get their hand in your pocket for everything. What next, we have to apply for permits to grow our own gardens? I wish most people would consider solar panels and windmills. Not always the best solution for energy, but still helpful overall. former mountain girl, GT

  • Panther Jul 23, 2008

    Percy Flowers would be proud of this guy! Gwally, yes sir, my family did also!

  • GWALLY Jul 23, 2008

    Some of my family (way back) tried to make their own 'biofuel' years ago (w/o gubment permission) and got in some trouble over it....but I guess times are a changin!!!

  • something2say Jul 23, 2008

    If he can safely produce the product and not put others or their property in danger. Why shouldn't they be allowed to produce. Saves them money and maybe down the road they can help others find ways to run on alternative fuels!

  • jsanders Jul 23, 2008

    You'd think government wouldn't have a problem with someone finding his own supply of a scarce resource, but then again, they talked about taxing private well owners. The issue really isn't the nominal issue, but control:

  • IDontCare2 Jul 23, 2008

    Yeap he just happened to have a still in the garage...SUREEEEEE!

    Moonshine anyone?

  • delilahk2000 Jul 23, 2008

    All the goverment wants is to keep us all under their thumbs. they really do not want us to get out the bind that we are in.

  • slick rick da troll whisperer Jul 23, 2008

    "Does anyone see a problem with "The Kommissioners" having a say in what a law abiding private land owner does on his/her own property?"

    yes, i do..bigtime...especially when it is concerning things like solar panels, windmills, and alternative fuels.

  • Tired_of_LIBERALS Jul 23, 2008

    If you make "shine" you are only bucking the government. If you make ethanol you are bucking the energy consortium - that is MUCH MORE DANGEROUS. Kinda like stealing from the mafia... The energy consortium ARE the new organized criminals.

  • Stevesteve Jul 23, 2008

    Whar's Cleetus when we need him? Yee haw!