Guardian Energy celebrates grand opening of Ohio plant

By Kris Bevill | September 19, 2011

The 54 MMgy Guardian Lima LLC ethanol plant in Lima, Ohio, celebrated its grand opening on Sept. 15 after being idle for nearly three years following the previous owner’s bankruptcy.

The plant began operating as Greater Ohio Ethanol in 2008, but was idled in November that year after the company was unable to emerge successfully from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. Operational issues at the plant, including a minor fire prior to its shutdown, and adverse financial market conditions were blamed for the plant’s failure. In 2009, Paladin Ethanol Acquisition LLC, a capital investment firm, purchased the facility for just $5.75 million and agreed to invest approximately $34 million to retrofit the facility and make necessary repairs. Last November, Guardian Energy Holdings Inc. acquired a majority stake of the plant. ICM Inc. was responsible for conducting the plant’s retrofit.

“We are proud to bring this facility back into operation, creating jobs and providing a boost to the Lima economy,” Guardian Energy CEO Don Gales said. “Domestic ethanol production is a key component of the nation’s energy strategy and one that begins in hundreds of small towns and cities just like Lima.” 

The Renewable Fuels Association applauded Guardian Lima’s grand opening and said it demonstrates the ethanol industry’s ability to continue to create jobs, particularly in rural areas. Approximately 600 applications were submitted for the 33 full-time jobs provided by the Lima plant. Another 120 temporary jobs were created through the retrofit and construction activities at the plant.

Guardian Energy is a joint venture between Minden, Neb.-based KAAPA Ethanol LLC, Claremont, Minn.-based Al-Corn Clean Fuel Cooperative, Winthrop, Minn.-based Heartland Corn Products, Benson, Minn.-based Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co. LLLP, Mason City, Iowa-based Golden Grain Energy LLC and Little Falls, Minn.-based Central Minnesota Ethanol Cooperative. The plants formed Guardian Energy in 2009 in order to purchase and operate a 110 MMgy plant in Janesville, Minn., that was formerly owned by VeraSun Energy Corp. Guardian Energy continues to operate that facility and is also managing the operations at the Lima plant.