Start-ups occur despite wintery conditions

By Bryan Sims | January 12, 2009
With winter weather bearing down on construction crews, four ethanol plants completed their respective projects on schedule in December.
GreenField Ethanol began grinding corn and producing ethanol at its 200 MMly (53 MMgy) ethanol facility near Johnstown, Ontario, on Dec. 8. Two days later, the plant reached its full production capacity.

NEDAK Ethanol LLC completed construction of its 44 MMgy plant in Atkinson, Neb., in late December. Shortly thereafter, the company initiated the commissioning phase, which was to be followed by corn grinding, according to General Manager Jerome Fagerland.

Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy LLC completed construction of its 110 MMgy facility in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in late December, as well. Commissioning was underway to be followed by start-up, according to Plant Manager Dan Wych. The facility will use steam, as opposed to natural gas, to power its boilers and dryers.

Tharaldson Ethanol LLC confirmed that construction of its 120 MMgy plant in Casselton, N.D., was complete with corn grinding slated for Dec. 29. Plant Manager Russ Newman said
the plant began receiving corn in November and would run at 70 percent capacity once operational. "We expect the plant to be open between Christmas and the New Year's holiday," Newman said. "After that, we plan to hold a grand opening sometime in June when the weather is nicer."

Two plants were added to this month's list. Nexsun Ethanol LLC is constructing a 48 MMgy plant in Ulysses, Kan., while Northwest Bio-Energy Ltd. was conducting commissioning work at its 25 MMly (6 MMgy) facility in Unity, Saskatchewan. Start-up is slated for March.

Three plants suspended construction recently: E Caruso LLC, a 20 MMgy facility in Goodland, Kan.; Route 66 Ethanol LLC, a 10 MMgy plant in Tucumcari, N.M.; and Midwest Energy Producers LLC (formerly Holt County Ethanol LLC), a 110 MMgy facility in O'Neill, Neb. According to Steve Reed, co-owner of and investor in Route 66 Ethanol, the company was looking to dismiss its general contractors and hire a new contractor to finish the remaining work. He estimated the project would resume in January. Contractors hadn't yet arrived at
Midwest Energy Producers, but the company recieved permits in December that would allow it to proceed with construction, according to Kurt Bravo, vice president of project development.