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Serving: IA

More Ethanol Plants Planned For Iowa

More facilities could be built in central Iowa, as competition for corn grows fierce.

Another ethanol plant is planned to be built near Des Moines as investors race to secure the area's corn. Red Rock Renewables on November 6 said it plans to build a 55 million-gallon-per year facility near Pleasantville.

Charles Watson of Oskaloosa, one of the organizers, says the firm has options to buy 250 acres in Pleasantville's industrial park. He says a feasibility study will be finished in 2007 and will consider among other things, the area's corn supply.

The Des Moines City Council is considering two competing offers to build a plant on the city's southeast side. One is from Lincolnway Energy and the other offer is from Vision Fuels. These two proposed plants each would make at least 100 million gallons of ethanol a year. Ethanol investor groups have also contacted city officials in Carlisle and Mitchellville about locating ethanol plants there.

Afraid there won't be enough corn

"If all the plants that are planned for the area come into being, there won't be enough corn," says Watson. "Whoever gets there first will prevail."

Red Rock Renewables would need to buy about 20 million bushels of corn a year to produce 55 million gallons of ethanol. Iowa State University economist Bob Wisner says Polk, Warren, Marion and Jasper counties produced a total of 70.4 million bushels of corn in 2005.

The 20 million bushels of corn that would be used by the Red Rock Renewables plant represents about 28% of the four-county corn crop.

The plant would cost more than $100 million to build and it would provide 35 to 40 million jobs, says Watson. It would be the first ethanol plant in Marion County. Watson says officials of Red Rock Renewables have met with the county board of supervisors and officials of the city of Pleasantville, which has a population of 1,600 people. Watson says four other principal investors are involved in Red Rock LLC. These other four principal investors don't want to be identified.

Iowa currently has 25 ethanol plants in operation and another 11 are under construction or expanding. Another half-dozen have been proposed, says Lucy Norton, managing director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

Another plant planned for northwest Iowa

It was announced last week that a 110 million-gallon per year ethanol refinery is scheduled for construction near Arthur in Ida County in northwest Iowa. This plant, called Platinum Ethanol LLC, is a joint effort between Farmers Cooperative Company of Farnhamville and Fagen, Inc. of Granite Falls, Minn.

Farmers Cooperative (known as FC) is Iowa's largest farmer-owned cooperative and will be responsible for grain origination. Fagen will design and build the plant and CN Railroad will provide rail service. The plant will process 39 million bushels of corn annually and produce 350,000 tons of distillers grains.

Platinum Ethanol LLC will offer a grassroots investment opportunity for Iowa residents. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2007, with completion of the facility in the fall of 2008.

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