Poet opens new ethanol plant in Indiana

By Kris Bevill | April 08, 2008
Web exclusive posted April 18, 2008 at 1:05 p.m. CST

Over 1,000 people attended the grand opening of the Poet LLC biorefinery at Alexandria, Ind., on April 17. The $115 million facility will begin production April 22 and should be operating at its capacity - 65MMgy - within a week, according to plant general manager David Hudak.

Speakers at the event included Jack Woods, mayor of Alexandria, Ind.; Chris Novak, executive director of the Indiana Corn Growers Association; Andy Miller, director of the Indiana Department of Agriculture; Indiana Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman and Poet CEO Jeff Broin.

"Poet is helping our state establish itself as a leader in biofuel production," said Indiana Lt. Gov. Skillman. "Thanks to the investment of this company our state now boasts seven operational plants with seven more to come. In the past three years, this industry has contributed 750 new jobs [in the state], more than $2.1 billion in capital investment and put more than $26 million in the pockets of Hoosier farmers. It's no accident that Indiana is experiencing an agricultural rejuvenation. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Poet and all of the corn growers in Indiana. We all look forward to watching your company's success continue to grow in Indiana."

Novak expressed his appreciation to Poet and to state corn growers, but stressed that the "race is not yet won", referring to the lack of E85 filling stations in the state and the negative myths still being spread about ethanol. Of the 3,000 filling stations in Indiana, only 100 offer E85. Novak said the state's Corn Growers Association has plans to expand ethanol educational programs this summer and to push for wider availability of E85 pumps for consumers.

Broin said the time has come for a "renewable revolution" and the surface has not even been scratched as to what is possible in the future of biofuels. "A revolution is about change - change for the better. And we need change," he said. "Corn based ethanol is a good thing. Our industry is now like a teenager - there are some growing pains but also tremendous potential for the future."

The Alexandria, Ind., facility is equipped with Poet's BPX technology and, according to Broin, could be expanded to produce ethanol from cellulosic materials in the future. The plant will produce 178,000 tons of Poet's Dakota Gold Brand distillers grains annually, which will be exported and also available for sale locally. The facility, which will consume 21 million bushels of grain annually, will employ 42 people.

Poet Biorefining - Alexandria is the 23rd plant built and operated by Poet since the company began 20 years ago as Broin Companies. It's Poet's second ethanol facility in Indiana. A 68 MMgy Poet facility in Portland, Ind., began production in September 2007. A third Poet biorefinery at Manchester, Ind., is slated to begin producing later this year.