Western Wisconsin Energy, 55 MMgy ethanol plant, up for grabs

By Holly Jessen | July 13, 2011

After several months of exploring options, the board of directors of Western Wisconsin Energy LLC has elected to sell the Boyceville, Wis., plant. Rather than an auction, the company is seeking a facilitated or negotiated sale for a fair price and the right terms, said Kirk Martin, a partner with Ascendant Financial Partners, the exclusive mergers, acquisitions and financial advisor to Western Wisconsin.

There are two primary factors leading up to the board’s decision to look for a buyer. First, Martin said, the group accomplished what it set out to do—build a profitable ethanol plant that had a positive economic impact on the region. Secondly, the board is faced with buying out some equity holders that had the option of requiring the company to do so.

Western Wisconsin is a dry mill ethanol plant with a nameplate capacity of 55 MMgy but consistently performs at 57 MMgy, according to the company’s website. Besides ethanol, the facility produces 175 thousand tons of distillers grains and 7.2 million pounds of industrial corn oil yearly. Although it has the capacity to dry 100 percent of its distillers grains, Western Wisconsin only dries about 65 percent of the coproduct and sells the remaining amount as wet distillers grains to local dairy cattle operations within a 100 mile radius. The company has also been in discussions with an industrial gas company for a crude CO2 contract.

The plant is located on 120 acres of land. However, the plant footprint only takes up about 50 acres, meaning there is room for expansion. It is located next to a Canadian Northern main line and has a total of 1.86 million bushels of on-site grain storage—enough for about 30 days.

Western Wisconsin was formed in 2003 by local farmers, investors and LLC partners interested in building and operating a 40 MMgy ethanol plant. The plant came online in September 2006. Two years later construction of a fourth fermentor began, bringing nameplate capacity up to 55 MMgy in early 2009. 

The majority owner of the facility is Western Wisconsin Renewable Energy Cooperative, which is made up of more than 500 local farmers and investors, many of whom deliver grain to the plant. The other owners are Capitaline Advisors LLC, Fagen Inc., Indeck Energy Services Inc. and Murex N.A.

Ascendant Partners will be coordinating plant tours Aug. 1 through Aug. 12.