Siouxland Energy temporarily idles production

By Matt Thompson | September 16, 2019

Siouxland Energy Cooperative, a 90 MMgy ethanol plant in Sioux Center, Iowa, has temporarily idled its ethanol production, according to Jeff Altena, Siouxland director of operations and controller. Altena said the company decided to extend its annual fall shutdown until more favorable economic conditions return to the market. “With the current economic conditions, it didn’t make sense to continue production,” Altena said.

Siouxland employees will continue to be paid while the plant is idle, he added, noting that the timeline for resuming production will depend on decisions from the Trump Administration to ease the strain placed on the industry following the approval of 31 small refinery exemptions (SREs) in August.

Altena said that a potential deal to appease corn farmers and ethanol producers will have to be substantive and have an immediate impact on the industry. Measures like financial assistance for installing blender pumps, while nice, won’t provide immediate relief.

Following the August approval of the SREs, ethanol and renewable identification number (RIN) prices and corn prices dropped significantly. Altena said that there is optimism that an announcement regarding reallocation of waived gallons could have a similar positive effect on the industry.

He said that by issuing the SREs and failing to account for those lost gallons, the current EPA is “basically breaking the law and nobody’s doing anything enforce it.”

Siouxland is the most recent plant to announce idling production as a result of demand destruction thanks to the small refinery waivers. Poet in August announced its Cloverdale, Indiana plant had idled, and Corn Plus in Minnesota announced plans to cease operations. Additionally, Plymouth Energy in Merrill, Iowa announced in July it had idled production.