Several Facilities Near Completion

By Jessica Sobolik | September 08, 2008
Despite the financing challenges that proposed ethanol plants are facing today, the facilities that secured funding and began construction have been moving forward and meeting time linesa positive sign among negative press coverage in the mass media these days. In this month's list, for example, five facilities have started production, and 13 plan to do so by the end of October.

Northeast Biofuels LLC started production at its 100 MMgy corn-based ethanol plant in Volney, N.Y., in early August. The facility is the easternmost ethanol plant in the United States and should help to increase availability in the Northeast.

Also in August, VeraSun Hartley LLC, a 110 MMgy corn-based ethanol plant in Hartley, Iowa, announced start-up. Construction of this facility was completed in June, but the company announced it would delay production until market conditions improved. It did the same with its ethanol plants in Hankinson, N.D., which started up a month later, and Welcome, Minn. In the company's second-quarter earnings report released Aug. 11, it said the Welcome facility is aiming for a September start-up, along with its facility in Dyersville, Iowa. VeraSun's only other ethanol plant currently under construction in Janesville, Minn., is slated for completion by the end of the year.

Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC, a 100 MMgy facility in Annawan, Ill., started grinding corn in the last week of August. White Energy Plainview LLC was confirmed at press time to have been operational since May.

Poet Biorefining-North Manchester hosted its grand opening Sept. 11, celebrating the start-up of its 68 MMgy corn-based facility in North Manchester, Ind.

If all 13 plants scheduled to start production by the end of October reach their goals, then this plant construction list will look drastically different in the coming months. IGPC Ethanol Inc. in Aylmer, Ontario; Indiana Bio-Energy LLC in Bluffton, Ind.; Pacific Ethanol Stockton LLC in Stockton, Calif.; Platinum Ethanol LLC in Aurthur, Iowa; Poet Biorefining-Fostoria in Fostoria, Ohio; Route 66 Ethanol LLC in Tucumcari, N.M.; and the two VeraSun facilities in Dyersville and Welcome planned to start production by the end of September. Bridgeport Ethanol LLC in Bridgeport, Neb.; Cilion Ethanol LLC in Keyes, Calif.; Ethanol Grain Processors LLC in Obion, Tenn.; First United Ethanol LLC in Camilla, Ga.; and Poet Biorefining-Marion in Marion, Ohio, plan to start production in October. Cardinal Ethanol LLC in Union City, Ind., said it plans to start construction this fall. Together, these 13 facilities total approximately 1.07 billion gallons of ethanol. After these plants have started production, only 22 plants will remain under construction.

One unique facility currently on the list is Louisiana Green Fuels LLC in Lacassine, La. According to press contact Randal Johnson, the company will be using sugarcane as a feedstock in the same manner as the South American ethanol industry. The feedstock will be supplied by an adjacent facility and various state sugar mills. The ethanol facilitiy will also process sweet sorghum, which has been planted and will be harvested twice a year for sugar extraction. The sugarcane bagasse and other solids left over from processing will be burned in a boiler to generate steam power for the ethanol plant and adjacent sugar plant. The company will also be able to sell power back to the local grid and produce biofertilizers with the remaining waste. This is the first of four facilities that the company plans to build in the state. After the other facilities are built, the facility in Lacassine will be expanded from 25 MMgy to 100 MMgy. The goal is to meet this final goal by 2012.