With the opening of an ethanol plant last week at Corning in southwest Iowa, the state now has a total of 28 ethanol plants producing the corn-based fuel. The new $105 million facility at Corning will produce 60 million gallons of ethanol per year when it is fully operational.
Poet Biorefining, the ethanol company formerly known as Broin, held a grand opening for the plant on May 4. Poet built the Corning facility and will also manage it. This is the 26th plant Poet has built in the United States, and the company's seventh in Iowa. Poet has an ownership interest in the Corning plant, as do other shareholders who invested in it.
With the 60 million gallons of production coming online at Corning, Poet becomes one of only two companies in the U.S. with an annual production capacity over one billion gallons. The largest ethanol producer is Archer Daniels Midland. The Corning plant will consume 21 million bushels of corn per year and employ 40 people with an annual payroll of about $2 million.
New plant creates 40 local jobs
Poet, headquartered in Sioux Falls, S.D., currently has seven plants either under construction or in development in Indiana, Minnesota and Ohio.
Jeff Broin, CEO of Poet, addressed the crowd at Corning. "We've come a long way since we started with a one million gallon ethanol production facility 20 years ago in South Dakota," he said. "But what really motivates us is the impact that producing one billion gallons of ethanol has on some of the most pressing issues of our day. It stimulates the local economy, improves the environment and makes our country a more secure place by reducing our need for foreign oil."
Poet Biorefining – Corning is the name of the new plant. It will use corn from the area to produce the 60 million gallons of ethanol and 178,000 tons of Dakota Gold Enhanced Nutrition Distillers Grain per year. The facility's ethanol marketing is provided by Poet Ethanol Products. The distillers grains are marketed by Poet Nutrition. Rail access is through BNSF.
The Corning plant is the 20th plant under Poet's management since the company was founded 20 years ago by the Broin family. The Corning plant is the seventh plant built by Poet in Iowa, the first of which began operations near Coon Rapids in August, 2002. That plant is known as Tall Corn Ethanol.
Ethanol plant efficiency is improving
"This region around Corning, with this new plant, is gaining one of the most efficient facilities in the ethanol industry," says Broin. "It has benefited from 20 years of research and development at POET and the learning that comes from our firm having built 25 – now 26 – ethanol plants. This new plant includes advancements like our patent-pending BPX technology that eliminates the cooking process in ethanol production. This technology reduces our energy usage by as much as 15% in comparison with conventional plants."
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, spoke at the ceremony. "Hats off to the good people of Adams County for following through on a vision," he said. "Energy security is one of the nation's top priorities and I salute you for helping to lead the way. Everybody involved ought to take pride and enjoy the economic benefits that are sure to reverberate throughout the regional economy."
Representative Steve King and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey were also in attendance along with Matt Hartwig of the Renewable Fuels Association and Ron Lamberty from the American Coalition for Ethanol.
POET is the largest dry mill ethanol producer in the U.S. and is a leader in the biorefining industry through project development, design and construction, research and development, plant management and marketing. The company produces and markets more than one billion gallons of ethanol annually. For information, go to www.poetenergy.com.
Vera Sun producing at Charles City
On April 16, the VeraSun Company began producing ethanol at its new plant at Charles City in northeast Iowa. The 27th ethanol plant to begin operating in Iowa, this facility will process 39 million bushels of corn into 110 million gallons of ethanol and 350,000 tons of distillers grains annually.
VeraSun Energy currently operates ethanol refineries in Fort Dodge and Charles City, Iowa, and at Aurora, South Dakota. The company has ethanol refineries under construction in Hartley, Iowa, and at Welcome, Minn. Vera Sun also has a plant in the development stage in Indiana.
"We are pleased that our Charles City facility started production nearly three months ahead of schedule," says Don Endres, chairman and CEO of VeraSun. "This early startup truly showcases the power of partnership among VeraSun, our contractors and the Charles City community. We are pleased to contribute even more to our nation's domestic fuel supply."
"VeraSun continues to push the ethanol envelope," says Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. "At a time when major projects are lagging behind, VeraSun finished building this plant ahead of schedule."
Groundbreaking for Hartley plant
On May 3, VeraSun held a groundbreaking ceremony for it's new plant which is being built at Hartley in O'Brien County in northwest Iowa. Endres says when the plant is completed it will produce 110 million gallons of corn-based ethanol per year. He figures it will take about a year to complete.
Vera Sun is a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange, listed under VSE.
"Our plant at Hartley will provide 60 full-time jobs," says Endres. "These are good-paying jobs - plant operators, technicians, lab workers, grain graders, administrative staff and others. We provide good paying jobs for the local area.
"Corn has been exported from the Midwest for so many years. The Midwest has been exporting its young people as well. The biofuels industry is an opportunity to keep our talented young people here. In addition to these 60 employees, we'll create a lot of additional secondary jobs in the area, jobs needed to support the facilities. Electrical work, mechanical work and other businesses will be needed which will support the economic base in this northwest Iowa area."