Pacific Ethanol idles Aurora East plant

By Matt Thompson | December 20, 2018

Faced with poor market conditions, Pacific Ethanol has idled its Aurora East plant in Aurora, Nebraska. Paul Koehler, Pacific Ethanol’s vice president of commodities and corporate development, confirmed the plant’s status to Ethanol Producer Magazine. “Pacific Ethanol has idled the 45 Mmgy Aurora East plant due to the negative margin market conditions current in the ethanol industry,” Koehler said. He did not comment on how long the plant is expected to remain idle.

Along with idling the plant, the company laid off a percentage of its Aurora workforce. “We also laid off 26 people, which represents about one third of the work force at the Pacific Aurora campus,” Koehler said.

Pacific Ethanol President and CEO Neil Koehler pointed to low margins and ethanol inventories across the industry as reasons for slowing production at some of its plants during a recent investor call. “As a company, we have reduced our production levels and are running at around 90 percent of operating capacity, across the portfolio,” Neil Koehler said during the November call.

The Aurora East plant has been in operation since 1995. Pacific Ethanol also operates a 110 Mmgy plant—Aurora West—in Aurora. It has not announced plans to idle production at that plant.

In total, Pacific Ethanol operates nine plants in the U.S. with a combined production capacity of 605 MMgy.