EnergyOne pulls back on groundbreaking at Lake Wales plant

By Holly Jessen | January 24, 2011

Instead of starting work on a 2 MMgy ethanol plant in Lake Wales, Fla., as was hoped, EnergyOne has announced it is putting the project on hold for an unspecified amount of time. Boris Maslov, the company’s president, pointed to all-time high corn prices coupled with 15-year lows for corn stocks and the uncertain future of extending ethanol tax credits for 2012. “Under the circumstances, diving into new corn-based plant construction seems to be a poor timing, at the very least,” he told EPM.

EnergyOne had planned to break ground soon at the site of the former Sealy and Precision Air factories. The goal was to ramp up to 4 MMgy by the end of 2011 and eventually scale up to 8 MMgy. The company also planned for a renewable energy jobs training center co-located with the ethanol plant, Maslov said.

EnergyOne is working on three other plant proposals in Okeechobee, Fla., Hurlock, Md., and Moldova in eastern Europe, which have all been deferred in the same manner as the Lake Wales project, he said. The three proposed projects are all for 10 MMgy with molasses as the feedstock in Okeechobee, barley in Maryland., and corn, the lowest cost feedstock available for commercial ethanol production in Europe, in Moldova.

News that the Lake Wales project was put on hold was a disappointment for Easy Energy Systems Inc., said Tom Gallagher, sales manager for Easy Energy. The Minnesota-based modular ethanol system company scored its first commercial sale to EnergyOne and had to halt work on the project when EnergyOne announced the delay. “We’re confident that within a few months we’ll be back on track with them,” he said, adding that the company is in talks with many other potential ethanol developers, with between 60 and 70 projects in the active phase and another top 10 poised to make a move within the next year.