Flint Hills permanently closes Georgia ethanol plant

By Erin Voegele | June 15, 2020

Although some ethanol plants idled during the COVID-19 crisis have begun to resume operations as stay-at-home orders are lifted and fuel demand increases, Flint Hills Resources has announced its plant in Georgia will be permanently shuttered.   

The company issued a statement on June 11 announcing it has made the difficult decision to permanently cease ethanol production at its 120 MMgy corn ethanol plant located in Camilla, Georgia. “The plant has been idled since May and will not resume ethanol production,” Flint Hills said in the statement. The facility, however, will continue to operate as an ethanol terminal and Flint Hills said the company is exploring ways the terminal can serve other feed and fuel needs in the area.

“We did not come to this decision lightly,” Flint Hills said in the statement. “Oversupply of ethanol in the marketplace and the loss of demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing a rationalization of U.S. ethanol production.”

Michael Wilhelmi, manager of communications and community relations at Flint Hills, told Ethanol Producer Magazine that attempts to identify an interested buyer for the plant were unsuccessful and current market conditions make a sale unlikely. He also noted that the current market environment makes it difficult for plants that are not advantaged to remain competitive, especially with respect to access to competitively priced corn.

According to Flint Hills, employees associated with the ethanol production portion of the business who were previously furloughed will be offered a severance.

The Camilla facility is the only corn ethanol plant located in Georgia. The facility began operations in 2008 under the name Southwest Georgia Ethanol LLC, which was a wholly owned subsidiary of First United Ethanol LLC. Southwest Georgia Ethanol filed for bankruptcy in February 2011 due to liquidity constraints that resulted from operational problems that the company said were later resolved. A reorganization plan approved in late 2011 allowed the plant to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Flint Hills acquired the plant several years later in January 2015.

Flint Hills now operates six ethanol plants. According to the Ethanol Producer Magazine plant map, those plants include a 130 MMgy facility in Arthur, Iowa; a 105 MMgy facility in Fairbank, Iowa; a 125 MMgy facility in Fairmont, Nebraska; a 100 MMgy facility in Iowa Falls, Iowa; a 125 MMgy facility in Menlo, Iowa; and a 125 MMgy facility in Shell Rock, Iowa.