Green Plains idles plant, responds to market conditions

By Erin Voegele | September 18, 2018

Following recent news reports that Green Plains Inc. is idling two Iowa ethanol plants, a Green Plains spokesman has confirmed to Ethanol Producer Magazine that the company’s Superior, Iowa, plant has temporarily ceased production but stressed that the company flexes production at its facilities on a regular basis.

On Sept. 17, Reuters reported that Green Plains is shutting down production at two Iowa ethanol plants and cutting output at a facility in Minnesota. In the article, Reuters cite unnamed industry sources at saying the actions are due to low profit margins. 

Jim Stark, vice president of investor and media relations at Green Plains, confirmed that the 60 MMgy Superior facility has temporarily ceased production, but noted the company’s 124 MMgy plant in Lakota, Iowa, and 119 MMgy facility in Fairmont, Minnesota, are currently operational.

“We don’t comment on run rates at any particular plant,” Stark said. “We flex production up and down on a regular basis and have a history of doing so, reporting it on a quarterly basis.”

Green Plains currently operates 17 ethanol plants with a combined capacity of approximately 1.47 billion gallons, according to information published in the Ethanol Producer Magazine online plant map.  

On Aug. 31, Green Plains filed a report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that states the company is reassessing production levels announced in its second quarter earnings call based on current market conditions.

During the second quarter investor call, which was held Aug. 1, Todd Becker, president and CEO of Green Plains said the company produced 296 million gallons of ethanol during the second quarter of this year, up from 275 million gallons during the same period of 2017. That 296 million gallons of production represented approximately 80 percent of the company’s nameplate capacity. During the call, Becker said the company had planned to run its plants at or above 90 percent capacity moving forward. He explained that when Green Plains had flexed its production rate down in the past it had the unintended consequences of benefiting others rather than Green Plains shareholders. Also during the call, Becker stressed that the company “will remain focused on improving value” for its shareholders.

Green Plains will likely provide additional details on market conditions and its plans to flex production at its plants during the company’s third quarter investor call later this year.