Heron Lake plant has new majority interest holder

By Holly Jessen | August 06, 2013

Two Minnesota ethanol plants located less than 100 miles apart now have a strong connection. Granite Falls Energy LLC recently acquired a majority interest in Heron Lake BioEnergy LLC and will share three management positions between the facilities.

The two facilities, 63 MMgy Granite Falls Energy in Granite Falls, Minn., and 58 MMgy Heron Lake BioEnergy in Heron Lake, Minn., were both designed and built by the ICM Inc. and Fagen Inc. team, said Granite Falls Energy CEO and General Manager Steve Christensen, who will now take over the same title at Heron Lake as well. Two other members of the Granite Falls Energy management team that will begin working for both plants are Stacie Schuler, chief financial officer and controller, and Eric Baukol, risk manager.

Heron Lake’s CEO Bob Ferguson had told Ethanol Producer Magazine that he wanted to retire, back in April when an asset acquisition agreement with Guardian Energy Heron Lake holdings LLC fell through. Ferguson will retire after the transition is completed, Christensen confirmed, but will remain on the plant’s board of directors. Granite Falls Energy will also appoint a majority of the board members to Heron Lake’s board of governors. The Heron Lake plant has remained in operation through the failed transaction and is in operation today, Christensen said.

Terms of the purchase were not disclosed. The sale should be beneficial to both companies, Christensen said, mentioning economies of scale and shared management as positives. “We see that it could be good for both shareholders,” he said.

Paul Enstad, chairman of the Granite Falls Energy board, agreed. “Granite Falls Energy is pleased with the opportunity to invest in an excellent company like Heron Lake BioEnergy and to lend our management team to the mutual effort,” he said in a prepared statement. “This combination with another great rural Minnesota ethanol producer fits well within our vision for Granite Falls Energy.”

David Woestehoff, a founding governor of Heron Lake BioEnergy, said it was a great opportunity for both companies. “We look forward to moving this company forward and believe this arrangement will provide the best return to our shareholders,” he said in the press release.