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First United Ethanol holds grand opening

First United Ethanol, LLC or FUEL held a grand opening ceremony and site tour for its stockholders on Friday, December 12, 2008. With more than 350 people in attendance, the company celebrated their achievement as the first 100 million gallon per year ethanol plant in the entire Southeast to be in production.

Tommy Dollar, Chairman of the Board of Directors of FUEL, greeted the crowd and thanked the stockholders for their investment in FUEL. He informed the stockholders that Southwest Georgia Ethanol (SWGE), LLC, a FUEL company, had sold and was in the process of making and moving 32 million gallons of ethanol and more than 100,000 tons of dried distillers grains. He also announced that SWGE had exceeded the conversion factor of 2.85 gallons of ethanol per bushel of corn and had achieved this with less electricity and less natural gas than the originally budgeted projections. He presented the following economic benefits derived from the ethanol industry.

In 2007, the ethanol industry added nearly $48 billion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product and generated $4.6 billion in federal tax revenues and nearly $3.6 billion in tax revenues for state and local governments.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the increased demand for grain used in ethanol production reduced federal farm program costs by more than $6 billion.

With clean burning ethanol blended into 70 percent of the nation’s gasoline, domestic ethanol production has reduced America’s dependence on foreign oil by more than 400,000 barrels a day. Several independent analyses have recently concluded the use of ethanol in the U.S. is saving consumers between $0.25 and $0.50 a gallon.

The production and use of 6.5 billion gallons of domestic ethanol in 2007 reduced oil imports by 228 million barrels, saving $16 billion of taxpayer dollars.

These increases in tax revenues and savings in federal program payments and oil imports total more than $30 billion. That compares to the $3.4 billion that oil companies received for blending ethanol in 2007.

Dollar concluded his welcome address by saying, “Let us celebrate this day by walking down these streets we have paved here at Southwest Georgia Ethanol and realize that we are paving the way for biofuel production in the Southeast Region of this great nation of ours.”

Dollar asked Murray Campbell, CEO of FUEL, to join him in recognizing dignitaries and guests as well as the FUEL employees. Mr. Campbell then welcomed the platform speakers, Ben Hayward, Chairman of the Mitchell County Commission, Jill Stuckey, Director of Alternative Fuels with the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, Representative Richard Royal, Senator John Bulloch, chairman of the Senate Ag Committee and Congressman Sanford Bishop.

During his statements, Chairman Hayward of the Mitchell County Commission thanked the Georgia Economic Development Authority and Dan Bollinger, Executive Director of the Southwest Georgia Regional Development Center for their efforts in securing a $1 million investment in the new road leading to the Mitchell County Industrial Park where FUEL is located.

Congressman Sanford Bishop congratulated the stockholders, board of directors, management team and employees of FUEL for making the day happen. Quoting Henry Ford, Bishop said, “All the world is waiting for a substitute for gasoline. The day is not far distant when, for every one of those barrels of gasoline, a barrel of alcohol must be substituted.” Bishop explained that Mr. Ford said that in 1916 saying, “(Ford said this) More than 90 years ago, in a world with less people and more oil and cheaper oil, at that Henry Ford spoke about the need for alternative energy.“

Congressman Bishop concluded his address with the following statement, “The individuals gathered in this room are ready for a sweeping change in our energy policy the only thing holding them back is an equal determination from our leaders in government. I am here to tell you: I am with you, I support you, and I am going to do anything I can to make sure that biofuels drive this country towards a stronger, brighter future. Together, America can do better and we will do better.”

Prior to the ceremony, Congressman Sanford Bishop presented a flag to FUEL that had been flown over the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Representative Richard Royal presented a Georgia state flag to FUEL. Both were flying over the site the day of the grand opening.

Mr. Campbell addressed the crowd and said he was pleased to announce that operations at FUEL were running smoothly and that he was honored to be a part of this “incredible project.” He told the crowd that he was proud to be leading FUEL’s team and was pleased to be producing ethanol despite the challenges in America’s economy and world markets. He said he felt positive about the future of ethanol and biofuels.

Following the ceremony, Tommy Dollar, Murray Campbell, Larry Kamp, CFO for FUEL and Drew Gahagan, General Manager for FUEL, led tours of the facility for the stockholders. The tour consisted of walking through the process area including fermentation and distillation and the energy center where the distillers grains are put through large drying systems. The tour encompassed the entire site including the receiving building where a 75 car unit train was unloading corn while trucks were being loaded with dried distillers grains.