Idled ethanol plant gets new owners, hope of restart

By Holly Jessen | July 25, 2013

The former New Energy Corp. ethanol plant in South Bend, Ind., has a new owner that plans to restart the facility in late 2013 or early 2014. “We are pleased that this firm has chosen South Bend as the right place to make this investment,” said Mayor Pete Buttigieg in a prepared statement. “Throughout this process, we have wanted to see this plant operated, not liquidated, employing residents in the new economy.”

The 100 MMgy plant was purchased for $2.5 million at bankruptcy auction Jan. 31 by Biditup Auctions and Appraisals Worldwide Inc. and Maynards.  The companies said at the time that they were accepting sealed bids through July 15. The City of South Bend announced the new owner as Noble Americas South Bend Ethanol LLC in a July 18 press release.

NASBE is a subsidiary of Noble Americas Corp. Both NASBE and NAC are indirectly, wholly owned subsidiaries of the Noble Group Ltd., which is described on the company website as a global supply chain manager of agricultural and energy products, metals and minerals.  “This acquisition will help complement Noble’s existing ethanol business in the United States,” William Cronin, president of NASBE, was quoted as saying in the South Bend press release. “The idea is to organically grow this into a major physical ethanol business.”

The ethanol plant first began producing in late 1984 but has been idle since early November. New Energy Corp. filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 9. According to the listings at the websites of Biditup and Maynards, the facility is a complete turn-key ready ethanol plant on 70 acres. The original cost of the facility was more than $180 million with major multi-million upgrades as recently as 2007. Besides ethanol and distillers grains, the facility produces 182,000 tons yearly of CO2, with about $2 million in net yearly income from a contract with a major CO2 supplier.