Pinal Energy celebrates groundbreaking

By | March 01, 2006
The first ethanol plant to be built in Arizona celebrated its groundbreaking Jan. 30 in Maricopa, 20 miles southeast of Phoenix. Various state and local officials, Pinal Energy LLC board members, and members of the Maricopa community attended the event.

The $60 million plant will be constructed by The Industrial Company (TIC) with process technology supplied by Delta-T Corp. The plant will be owned and operated by Arizona Grain Inc., and constructed adjacent to the company's existing grain facility. "It really is a natural fit for us with a major grain facility and a big feedlot next door," said John Skelley, president of Arizona Grain. "This is an exciting asset in that it will involve not only processing corn into feed, but also the creation of two new products for this facility: energy and carbon dioxide."

Dirt work is underway with a target start-up date set for February 2007. "We hope to finish sooner," Skelley said. "We hope to take advantage of the Arizona weather to speed up construction."

Pinal Energy will produce 55 MMgy of ethanol from an estimated 18 million bushels of corn, shipped from the Midwest. "We are big corn users here in Arizona, so we bring in a lot of corn," Skelley said. "Instead of buying corn by the truckloads, we buy it by the train loads."
Pinal Energy is working to finalize an ethanol marketer and is looking at plans to blend its own E85 at the plant in the future. There isn't a large demand for E85 in Arizona, but Skelley said he hopes Pinal Energy will change that.

The idea for the plant started getting tossed around about five years ago when Skelley and other board members saw three good revenue streams that could come out of the plant. "We have a lot of bottle companies that have a need for carbon dioxide, the state has a fuel additive mandate in the winter months, and there is a large feedlot we can take advantage of," Skelley said. The plant will be producing mostly distillers wet grains that will service the neighboring feedlot by conveyor belts. "That will be a huge cost-saver, not having to dry or ship all of our distillers grains," Skelley said. Any distillers dried grains will be marketed by Arizona Grain's sister company, Eagle Milling. All carbon dioxide will be captured and marketed by Reliant Holdings; the plant will also have capabilities to create dry ice on site.