East Coast Ethanol begins equity drive

By Susanne Retka Schill | October 06, 2008
Web exclusive posted Oct. 16, 2008 at 3:49 p.m. CST

In a year when announcements of equity drives have been few and far between, East Coast Ethanol LLC made a big splash Oct. 14, holding concurrent events announcing plans to build four 110 MMgy corn-based ethanol plants along the Atlantic Coast. The facilities will be built in Jackson, N.C.; Columbia, S.C.; Jesup, Ga.; and Carollton, Fla.

East Coast Ethanol was formed in August 2007, as a result of a merger between four entities, each in the process of developing 110 MMgy plants. The four were Mid-Atlantic Ethanol LLC, Palmetto Agri-Fuels LLC, Atlantic Ethanol LLC and Florida Ethanol LLC. More than two-thirds of East Coast Ethanol's 120 seed investors, who collectively contributed $9.8 million, are involved in farming, agribusiness or are small business owners. In early October the project received the U.S. Security Exchange Commission's approval to begin an equity drive for the $871 million multi-site project. Site acquisition details and permit applications are at varying stages in each of the locations, according to company spokesman Jim Haskins.

Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2009 and take 18 months to 22 months, with operations expected to begin in 2010. Fagan Inc. will design and build all four of the plants, partnering with ICM Inc. for process design. East Coast Ethanol said it will buy corn grown in the Southeast, but expects to ship in the majority of its corn from the Eastern Corn Belt to supply the 40 million bushels of corn required for each of the facilities annually.

If the equity drive is successful, East Coast Ethanol expects to be the foremost supplier of ethanol in the Southeast. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that the Southeast market demand for E10 is 2.1 billion gallons per year, according to East Coast Ethanol.