Granite Falls Energy extends annual shutdown, considers idling

By Erin Voegele | April 09, 2020

Granite Falls Energy LLC filed an 8-K with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on April 9 announcing it will extend the regularly scheduled annual shutdown of its 62 MMgy ethanol plant in Granite Falls, Minnesota, through at least April 17. 

The filing notes that the annual shutdown began on April 3. “The company utilizes the regulatory scheduled annual temporary shutdown period to perform maintenance and other operational improvements,” Granite Falls Energy said in the document. In observance of social distancing guidelines, the company said it staggering the presence of contractors on its premise during the shutdown.

Granite Falls Energy also indicated company officials are considering whether it is appropriate for the plant to remain idle after April 17 due to market risks and uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic and its ramifications. “The company will continue to consider the information available to it and will provide additional disclosure in the event that the company chooses to extend the idle period,” Granite Falls Energy said in the filing.

Many U.S. ethanol plants have reduced production or idled in recent weeks due to the impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on April 8 indicates ethanol production fell to an average of 672,000 barrels per day the week ending April 3. That volume is down 330,000 barrels per day when compared to the same week of 2019, and down 407,000 barrels per day when compared production during the final week February 2020.

The EIA currently expects low ethanol production rates to persist for several months. The agency released its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook on April 7, predicting that ethanol production will average 630,000 gallons per day during the second quarter of this year, increasing to 740,000 barrels per day in the third quarter.