Buffalo Lake plant purchased by lender, restart expected soon

By Erin Voegele | August 28, 2013

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Catherine Constantine approved the acquisition of the assets of Purified Renewable Energy LLC to its lender West Ventures LLC on Aug. 26. According to documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota, West Ventures’ $5 million credit bid was the only bid on the plant.

Uri Landesman, president of Platinum Partners, an investment management group that West Ventures is affiliated with, confirmed to Ethanol Producer Magazine that the sale is expected to close Aug. 30. Following completion of the sale, he said the plant’s name will change to Buffalo Lake Advanced Biofuels.

According to Landesman, West Ventures intends to make the plant operational as soon as possible. “An operating team is in place, with full staffing expected within several months,” he said. “The permitting transfers and environmental issues are being actively pursued.”

As the plant’s leading secured creditor, Landseman said West Ventures wanted to make sure the plant would be operational in order to offer local employment opportunities. “A dismantling would have damaged the local economy,” he said, noting that the in addition to direct jobs, the plant also impacts its local economy through the purchasing of local corn and the sale of feed to local chicken and cattle operations.

“We very much look forward to getting the plant up and running again in the very near future,” Landesman said. “We feel that it will be an optimal situation for all impacted interests.”

The 18 MMGy ethanol plant in Buffalo Lake, Minn., filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on March 25. The plant was originally constructed in 1997. Purified Renewable Energy Purchased the plant from the Minnesota Energy cooperative in November 2012, after bringing the plant back online in June of that year. Prior to the June 2012 restart, the plant had been idled since late 2009. Following the 2012 restart, the facility experienced two fires, one in September and another in October. In June, IR1 Group LLC announced the plant would be sold at bankruptcy auction.