Sugar Valley Energy announces sugarcane production program

By California Ethanol + Power | January 26, 2021

California Ethanol + Power today announced it will engage with the local Imperial Valley farming communities to secure formal commitments to grow the first 20,000 acres of sugarcane feedstock for Sugar Valley Energy, a planned low-carbon ethanol production and biomass energy campus set to begin construction in 2021. Located near the city of Brawley, the 160-acre project is designed to produce 68 million gallons of low-carbon sugarcane ethanol annually, includes a 49 MegaWatt biomass power generation island with related infrastructure, and will be the first facility of its kind to be built in the United States of America.

 “We are very excited to announce the launch of our Sugar Valley Growers program,” said Dave Rubenstein, CEO of California Ethanol & Power.  “Grown, harvested and processed right here in Imperial County, sugarcane production for this project will bring significant and sustainable benefits for our economy and our environment.”

Rubenstein said the program will eventually allow opportunities for up to 60 local farmers to produce an estimated 48,000 acres of sugarcane crop, and growing agreements will be completed in a phased approach during the 2-3 year engineering and construction process for the new campus. The agreements are long-term and provide assurances for stabilized revenues for growers from the Sugar Valley Energy team, he added.  

According to an economic output study of the project performed in February 2020 by Circle Analytics, sugarcane production under the Sugar Valley Growers program will help sustain 1,200 agricultural jobs each year. In addition, the campus overall will employ 250 full-time employees and help sustain another 1,100 non-farm jobs each year. Operations of the project will represent more than $440 million annually in economic activity and approximately $39 million in annual recurring taxes and public revenue within Imperial County.

“Imperial County Farm Bureau is excited to see this project come to fruition,” said Brea Mohamed, the Bureau’s Executive Director. “The Sugar Valley Growers program will offer an additional planting option for about 10 percent of our county’s acreage and give our farmers new opportunities. Its anticipated creation of both ag and non-ag jobs as well as contributions to our local economy will have a positive impact to our county as a whole. We look forward to seeing the growth and success of this program.”

The Sugar Valley Growers program is expected to contribute environmental benefits to the region, including net beneficial air quality and traffic impacts based on overall land use and operations. The sugarcane crop has a generally high CO2 sequestration factor and requires fewer harvesting cycles involving diesel farm equipment. Unlike a large percentage of current Imperial Valley crop production, the sugarcane will be harvested and processed locally using clean fuel vehicles that will result in reductions in Vehicle Miles Travelled and pollution. Interested landowners can reach CE+P through growers@sugarvalleyenergy.com.

Sugar Valley Energy’s low-carbon fuel and energy products will assist the state of California in meeting its low-carbon fuel standards and carbon reduction initiatives. The campus represents the first in-state production facility for low-carbon ethanol. The ethanol products will be marketed under the new Essential EthanolTM brand, used as a gasoline additive and numerous other industrial and household applications. The campus will also generate needed electrical power and bio-methane gas, while providing a new wastewater treatment facility to support regional infrastructure.