Business and People

By | January 04, 2010
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>CHS Inc. elected several agricultural producers to its board of directors during the company's December annual meeting in Minneapolis. Don Anthony of Lexington, Neb.; Steve Fritel of Barton, N.D.; David Kayser of Alexandria, S.D.; and Mike Mulcahey of Waseca, Minn., were re-elected for three-year terms. David Bielenberg of Silverton, Ore., previously served on the board from 2002 through 2006 and has been elected to serve a three-year term.
Following the meeting, the board selected Michael Toelle of Browns Valley, Minn., to serve his eighth one-year term as chairman of the board. Other officers elected included: Robert Bass as vice chairman, Jerry Hasnedl as secretary-treasurer, Curt Eischens as second vice chairman and Randy Knecht as assistant secretary-treasurer.

>Robert Reynolds, founding member of the Renewable Fuels Association technical committee, was the recipient of ASTM International's Award of Excellence in recognition for his outstanding and dedicated contributions to fuel standards development and as a consensus builder within ASTM between ethanol and petroleum interests.
"Ethanol wouldn't have the excellent reputation for quality in the fuel industry without him, nor would it have gained the widespread acceptance and use it enjoys today," RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen said.
Reynolds has spent the past 30 years researching the transportation fuel system and is the author of the RFA's "Changes in Gasoline" manual series and Fuel Ethanol Industry Guidelines.

>Ottawa-based cellulosic ethanol producer Iogen Corp. supplied cellulosic E85 to be used in the Green Alternative Motorsports LeMans prototype car during the 25 Hours of Thunderhill endurance race in Willows, Calif. This is the third year the company has produced cellulosic ethanol for the endurance race car. Iogen supplied 300 gallons of cellulosic ethanol to be used during the race.

>North American Bioproducts Corp., a research-based provider of fermentation products and technology to the fuel ethanol industry, has selected Nick Donley to serve as regional sales manager for the company's central Midwestern service territory. Based in Cincinnati, Donley's service area will include Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois. His responsibilities include increasing the company's coverage area and ability to offer professional service to its customers.

>Mike Jerke has been selected to serve as general manager of Benson, Minn.-based Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co. LLLP. He is replacing longtime general manager Bill Lee, who left the company to focus on his role as CEO of Frontline BioEnergy LLC.

Prior to joining CVEC, Jerke spent seven years as general manager of Quad County Corn Processors in Galva, Iowa. He previously held management positions with several cooperative grain companies in Iowa and Illinois. Jerke currently serves as vice president of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, director of the Renewable Fuels Association and chairman of the Renewable Fuels Foundation.

>The American Coalition for Ethanol elected officers to serve on its 2010 board of directors during a meeting held Nov. 12. Lars Herseth was elected to serve as president of the board. Herseth also serves on the board of directors for Northern Growers LLC. Brian Wilcox was re-elected as vice president and Owen Jones was re-elected as treasurer. Duane Kristensen was newly elected as secretary. ACE founder Merle Anderson will retain his seat on the board and has been granted the title chairman emeritus. Other board of directors members to be elected to the executive committee were Scott Parsley and Ron Alverson.

>Iowa State University professor Hans van Leeuwen was named R&D Magazine's Innovator of the Year during a gala event held in November. The award has typically been given to technology developers in recent years. This was the first time since 2001 that the recipient's innovation focused on developing products from wastes. Van Leeuwen is a professor of environmental and biological engineering and is known as a leading researcher in the areas of biofuel production and co-product improvement. He has also led research into the application of ozonation in the prevention of introduced pests by shipping and for the purification of ethanol.

>B&P Process Equipment has developed a two-stage pusher capable of removing up to 99 percent of water content in crystalline slurries, with a processing rate of up to 90 metric tons per hour of solids. The two-stage design is meant to assist with difficult or unique operations as well as allow producers to diversify operations. Don Konuszewski, B&P centrifugal product manager, said the two-stage pusher allows the company to offer customers several designs while continuing to meet reliable and rugged performance expectations.

>Ethanol marketer Gavilon LLC has purchased $4 million of convertible junior subordinated notes from E Energy Adams LLC as the company works to restructure its debt. E Energy Adams operates a 55 MMgy production facility in Adams, Neb., and plans to use Gavilon's investment to fund working capital and capital projects.
In addition to its investment, Gavilon has been granted exclusive rights to market all of E Energy Adams' ethanol and distillers grains for the next five years. Gavilon currently markets approximately 800 million gallons of ethanol annually and has exclusive marketing agreements with five ethanol plants.

>Northeast Biofuels LLC expects its 100 MMgy ethanol plant in Volney, N.Y., to begin production during the second quarter of 2010. The facility began operating in August 2008, but ceased production after only a few months and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 2009. Major oil refiner Sunoco Inc. purchased the plant for $8.5 million in April 2009 through a bankruptcy auction. Once repairs are made, the plant will have a reduced nameplate capacity of approximately 85 MMgy and will employ approximately 50 workers.

>Glacial Lakes Energy LLC has begun an expansion of its Mina, S.D., ethanol plant. The project includes the construction of a 6,000-bushel-per-hour corn dryer, a 320,000 bushel increase in on-site storage capacity, and the addition of another receiving pit. The Mina ethanol plant currently can accept corn with a moisture content of 16.5 percent. After the dryers are installed, that figure will increase to 25 percent. Electrical, gas and ground improvements are also part of the expansion, which is expected to be complete by May, will cost about $2.75 million.

>An investor in VeraSun Energy Corp. filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of purchasers of the common stock of VeraSun between March 12, 2008, and Sept. 16, 2008, over alleged securities laws violations by certain former VeraSun executives. According to the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that certain VeraSun former executives violated the Exchange Act by failing to disclose between March 12, 2008, and Sept. 16, 2008 material adverse facts about VeraSun's true financial condition, business and prospects. On Oct. 31, 2008, VeraSun filed for bankruptcy protection.

>Pacific Ethanol Inc. has filed documents in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware for permission to reopen the company's 60 MMgy plant in Burley, Idaho. A court hearing was set to occur on Dec. 14. According to Pacific Ethanol, falling feedstock costs and imminent legislation that would increase the ethanol blend in gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent make production sustainable. The company intends to restart the plant sometime in 2010, which will allow it to generate revenue and pay creditors as it restructures its debt. Lenders providing debtor-in-possession financing were expected to support Pacific Ethanol's petition.

>Chief Ethanol Fuels Inc., located in Hastings, Neb., celebrated its 25th anniversary in December with more than 270 guests from the community and across the country. Sen. Ben Nelson, D.-Neb., a longtime supporter of ethanol, spoke at the event and praised Chief Ethanol for its commitment to the industry and for its potential to replace oil in the future. During the past 25 years, the company has expanded from its initial design capacity of 10 MMgy to 70 MMgy. Chief Ethanol was the first ethanol plant built in Nebraska. Nebraska ranks second in the nation for ethanol production.

>ICM Inc. recently announced it intends to meet a tight Feb. 1 deadline to rebuild the energy center at Tharaldson Ethanol's 110 MMgy facility in Casselton, N.D. The quad-dryer, dual RTO system ICM will install will replace original equipment that proved too limiting and did not allow the plant to reach its maximum production rate. In addition, ICM will remain on-site and has been contracted as the management service for the plant. This will be the first plant that ICM has been contracted to manage on behalf of another company.

>Florida-based Algenol Biofuels LLC and The Linde Group recently agreed to collaborate in a joint development project that aims to identify the optimum management of carbon dioxide and oxygen for Algenol's algae and photobioreactor technology. Algenol has developed a photosynthetic algae technology in which proprietary algae cells manufacture ethanol, while The Linde Group is a global engineering company with experience in the cost-efficient supply of carbon dioxide for climate- and eco-friendly carbon dioxide recycling applications. The joint development project will ultimately seek to develop cost-efficient technologies that can be used to capture, store, transport and supply carbon dioxide specifically for Algenol's ethanol production process.

>Energy crop company Ceres Inc. is working with Choren, an international leader in biomass-to-liquids technology, to optimize energy crops for thermochemical conversion to advanced low-carbon biofuels. In its role, Ceres will evaluate the composition of a broad range of switchgrass and willow plants, and provide biomass samples to Choren for thermochemical processing. The results will be used to identify the most relevant compositional traits as well as select the plants and traits that improve conversion and maximize fuel yields. The two-year project is funded in part by a U.S. DOE grant.

>Jeffery S. Briggs has been named chief operating officer of Green Plains Renewable Energy Inc. In his new position, Briggs will be responsible for all operations across the company, including agribusiness and ethanol production. In addition, he will lead the company's strategic sourcing efforts, environmental, health and safety programs. Prior to joining GPRE, Briggs was employed with Valmont Industries Inc., where, as president of the coatings division, he managed a 10-facility division with more than 1,000 employees. Most recently Briggs owned a private investment partnership investing in small and mid-sized companies. He has also been working with GPRE in a consulting capacity since July 2009.

>MGP Ingredients Inc. has entered into a joint venture agreement with Illinois Corn Processing Holdings that will allow distillery operations to resume at MGPI's 90 MMgy facility in Pekin, Ill. The facility is now owned and operated by a new entity, Illinois Corn Processing LLC. Illinois Corn Processing Holdings is an affiliate of Seacor Energy Inc., which paid MGPI $15 million for a 50 percent ownership interest in Illinois Corn Processing LLC. Seacor Energy is a subsidiary of Seacor Holdings Inc. The facility is expected to resume operations in early 2010.

>Pine Lake Corn Processors LP successfully emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy when the bankruptcy court for the Northern District of Iowa issued an order confirming the facility's Plan of Reorganization on Dec. 4. PLCP originally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Dec. 4, 2008, at which time the 30 MMgy plant was idled. Negotiations with the plant's secured lenders and ethanol marketing firm allowed the plant to restart production on Dec. 24, 2008. Operations have continued since that time.
As part of the Plan of Reorganization, Prairie Land Cooperative will take equity in lieu of payment of its claims, which totaled more than $14 million. PLC will now own approximately 85 percent of PLCP. In addition, the secured banks have agreed to a restructuring of their lines of credit. The smallest creditors will be paid in full, and the remaining creditors will be paid 30 cents to the dollar over the next five years. The plant's current management and employees will remain in place.

>Wyoming-based Western Biomass Energy LLC has been selected to participate in the USDA's Biomass Crop Assistance Program, which provides funding to assist agricultural and forest owners and operators with the collection, harvest, storage and transportation of eligible materials for use in biomass conversion facilities. Western Biomass Energy, which is majority-owned by KL Energy Corp., will use the BCAP funding to help offset the feedstock costs associated with its demonstration-scale ethanol plant in Upton, Wyo. The facility, which began operations in 2007, converts wood chips from the Black Hills into cellulosic ethanol. EP