Plants upgrade, restart production

By Holly Jessen | October 14, 2010
Plants in Wisconsin, Iowa and North Dakota are planning upgrades and one idled plant in Minnesota has restarted production. In financial news, one company reports increased net sales and revenue, another said it will repay shareholders and a third has repaid state incentives it received for a plant it never completed.

Ace Ethanol LLC
The 42 MMgy Ace Ethanol, Stanley, Wis., received $595,000 in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds distributed through the Wisconsin State Energy Program that will be used to upgrade its waste heat recovery from its regenerative thermal oxidizer. "We hope to have the project competed this year," said Neal Kemmet, general manager.

Lincolnway Energy LLC
Lincolnway will burn biomass in an existing boiler to offset the plant's use of coal, said Rick Brehm, the plant's president and CEO, thanks to a $1.9 million USDA Repowering Assistance Program grant. Authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill, the program establishes USDA payments for the use of biomass to replace fossil fuels. The 55 MMgy Nevada, Iowa, plant will invest another $2 million to install storage and handling equipment.

Blue Flint Ethanol LLC
Great River Energy and Headwaters Inc. have partnered with Knorr Farms to build a corn dryer at the 50 MMgy plant in Underwood, N.D. Construction began in August to add 600,000 bushels of corn storage and a natural gas-powered dryer with a capacity of 4,000 bushels per hour. Installation of the corn dryer was expected to wrap up by mid-October. "It should be just in time for this year's harvest," said Jeff Zueger, general manager.

Denco II LLC
A group of local investors, many of them farmers, purchased an idled ethanol plant in Morris, Minn., in late August and returned it to full operation in early October, according to Mick Miller, general manager.
The plant has gone through many changes in the past 10 years. Morris Ag Energy Inc. was purchased in 1999 by Diversified Energy Company LLC, known as Denco, and upgraded from 7 MMgy to 17 MMgy. In 2006, Australia-based Big Island Grain LLC purchased the plant and kept the name. Its newest owners renamed it Denco II.

The 24 MMgy plant was in cold idle for 20 months, but in good condition and ready for start up. "We do have plans to make facility improvements as we go," Miller said.

Rex American Resources Corp.
The former retail company announced a significant increase in quarterly sales thanks to its alternative energy segment. For the second quarter of 2010 Rex had net sales and revenue of $65.1 million, up from $17.1 million in the second quarter of 2009. Those numbers included contributions from One Earth Energy LLC, a 100 MMgy ethanol plant in Gibson City, Ill., of which Rex has 74 percent ownership. One Earth completed its first full quarter of production in the third quarter of 2009. The fiscal second-quarter results do not, however, include the 100 MMgy NuGen Energy LLC at Marion, S.D., in which Rex acquired 48 percent ownership in June. The company has interests in seven ethanol plants with a combined capacity of 632 million gallons.

Glacial Lakes Corn Processors
In September, the Glacial Lakes Corn Processors board of directors announced it would repay more than $11.1 million to its investors during the 2011 fiscal year, ending Aug. 31. "Our board and management believe this action demonstrates our continued success in restoring the financial health and viability of our company and we believe the time has come to repay our investors," said Mark Schmidt, board chairman. The board asked shareholders for needed working capital, rather than declare bankruptcy in 2008. The South Dakota cooperative, which owns ethanol plants in Watertown and Mina, assessed 6 cents per share prepaid unit retain, with a 99 percent response from approximately 4,200 investors.

Tate & Lyle plc
After announcing this spring that it would not complete construction on its Fort Dodge, Iowa, plant, Tate & Lyle repaid $1.42 million in state incentives. The company received the incentives to create 100 jobs with average salaries of $23.54 an hour, including benefits. No plans have been announced for the plant. Construction stopped just short of completion in March 2009.