Homeland Energy Solutions begins production

By Kris Bevill | April 14, 2009
Web exclusive posted May 1, 2009, at 3:33 p.m. CST

Homeland Energy Solutions LLC began producing ethanol at its 100 MMgy Lawler, Iowa, facility in early April and according to Steve Eastman, Homeland's chairman of the board, the plant is already producing at capacity. Eastman said performance tests were completed at the plant around April 25 and the process so far is "going as-planned or better."

Construction of the facility began in 2007. Eastman said the project had its fair share of naysayers all the way through the construction and start-up phases. There were predictions, due to the current volatile industry environment, that the project would never be finished or that the plant wouldn't pass performance tests. "[But] we're doing what our ultimate goal was - to produce ethanol and to do it profitably," Eastman said, adding that the key to finishing the project and operating it successfully is risk management. "We are grateful that we missed the commodity boom and bust of 2008 that whiplashed so much of the ethanol industry. While margins remain tight, we feel well positioned going forward."

Eastman told EPM he is personally invested in several other ethanol plants that are currently struggling after falling victim to the hedge fund trading problems experienced by so many ethanol producers last year. "Plants have struggled and some are shut down because of it," he said. "[Those still operating] are eating their capital to weather the storm and try to make it through it."

According to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, Homeland's facility is the 39th ethanol production facility to be located in the state. Four more facilities are currently under construction. "It's been a difficult time for the ethanol industry, but Homeland Energy Solutions is proof that we are working through it and finding ways to succeed," IRFA executive director Monte Shaw said. "Homeland Energy Solutions is a welcome addition to Iowa's growing industry."

Homeland will utilize 37 million bushels of corn annually and will employ approximately 45 people.