Minnesota ethanol plant restarts under new ownership

By Holly Jessen | September 05, 2012

If not for a failed pump, the former Minnesota Energy ethanol plant located near Buffalo Lake, Minn., would have shipped its first gallons of ethanol in more than two years. “We had a minor fire [Sept. 3] so we are probably delayed about a week or something,” said Patrick Riggs, vice president and chief financial officer. The resulting fire caused minor damage and triggered a re-inspection.

The 25 MMgy ethanol plant, which has been renamed Purified Renewable Energy LLC, shut down the end of 2009. Riggs and Steve Walker, president, backed by a private equity group in New York, purchased the facility and unofficially took possession on April 10. By July 1 the permit transfer process was completed and the official title transfer is happening this month, Riggs said. Currently, 29 employees work at the facility.

The plant, which was built in 1997, needed quite a bit of maintenance work before it restarted. It’s officially permitted for 25.3 MMgy and could be expanded to a 35 MMgy facility in the future, he said. Eventually, the plan is to upgrade it to convert about 10 to 20 percent advanced feedstocks, such as food waste or sugar beets. “It would still be primarily corn based but we believe there are some blending opportunities that we can process with other ag waste,” Riggs said.