VeraSun starts production at Iowa plant

By Ryan C. Christiansen | August 04, 2008
Web exclusive posted August 18, 2008 at 12:19 p.m. CST

VeraSun Energy Corp., headquartered in Brookings, S.D., started producing ethanol Aug. 14 at its 110 MMgy ethanol plant near Hartley, Iowa. Initial production at the plant was to begin at the end of June, but the company delayed bringing it on line due to unfavorable market conditions.

The company started production at the Hartley plant three days after announcing that the company's revenue for the second quarter of 2008 increased by 499 percent over the second quarter of 2007 to $1.015 billion. Founded in 2001, the company has a fleet of 16 production facilities in eight states, of which two are still under construction. VeraSun Energy is scheduled to have an annual production capacity of approximately 1.64 billion gallons of ethanol and more than five million tons of distillers grains by the end of 2008.

"We are pleased to bring our Hartley ethanol biorefinery into production," VeraSun Chief Executive Officer Don Endres said. "We appreciate the support of our team, business partners, and the community of Hartley to help make this day a reality." When VeraSun announced that the Hartley plant production would be delayed, Endres said the delay was due to volatility in the market and an unfavorable outlook for ethanol selling prices and overall margins.

Construction on the Hartley plant began in November 2006. In addition to ethanol, the plant is expected to produce 350,000 tons of distillers grains annually. The plant employs 55 workers.

The Hartley plant is the thirty-first ethanol plant in Iowa to come on line, which expands the state's ethanol production to almost 2,500 MMgy annually, according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. "At 2.5 billion gallons, Iowa is producing more ethanol than what that state consumes in gasoline annually, thus becoming a net exporter of transportation fuel," Endres said. "While the national debate continues on how to solve our energy crisis, Iowa is showing the nation how we can become less reliant on foreign oil today."