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FEW provides opportunity for plant list updates

2011 FEW has arrived. It should be a great conference. We’ve got some good speakers. We’ve got a nice number of ethanol producers coming – over a quarter of the attendees, and over three-quarters of U.S. capacity will be represented.
By Susanne Retka Schill | June 24, 2011

2011 FEW has arrived. I normally post my blog Monday morning before sending out Ethanol Week, but this Monday, I’ll be flying out to Indianapolis, so I’m writing this ahead. It should be a great conference. We’ve got some good speakers. We’ve got a nice number of ethanol producers coming – over a quarter of the attendees, and over three-quarters of U.S. capacity will be represented.

FEW has so many people and so many exhibitors it was almost overwhelming the first time I attended. Then, in subsequent years it becomes a treat to have a chance to say hello to so many of the people I’ve talked to on the phone many times. There is camaraderie among ethanol producers, as perhaps there is in any industry that is relatively small.

One of the features of the FEW in the past couple of years has been the two free passes given out to ethanol producers listed on our spring and fall ethanol maps. One nice side benefit is this fills in the holes in our list. I got a call this morning about one producer – a small plant that we didn’t have listed. We used to have it listed, and my guess is that when we called for updates the former owners gave us their list of plants, but neglected to tell us this there were new owners for this one. Since it was small, we must have assumed it was closed, rather than sold. So, if you keep track of such things, there’s another 5 MMgy of capacity (although the plant is only producing 1.1 MMgy at this time.)

We decided a couple of years ago that we would no longer track producing and idled plants – instead, the total number represents installed capacity at existing plants. Plants aren’t taken off the list until we can verify that they’ve been permanently decommissioned. We strive to keep our plant list accurate and up-to-date, and welcome updates from ethanol producers at anytime. Often, capacities are slowly ratcheted up, which we like to note.

The real excitement now is coming from the cellulosic ethanol sector. We expect to slowly and steadily be adding more plants under construction to our map. There appears to be a nice synergy emerging with MSW-to-ethanol projects and urban areas facing landfill issues. Financing is still very much an issue, but slowly, projects are finding a way to put together the package. It’s very satisfying to be able to report on those.