Groundbreaking ceremonies were held Monday for a new ethanol plant in western Iowa’s Guthrie County. Hawkeye Renewable Energy CEO Bruce Rastetter says the plant, located about a mile east of Menlo, is the third for the Iowa Falls-based company. He says they decided to locate near Menlo because of the proximity to rail lines, the amount of corn produced locally, and the county’s willingness to work with Hawkeye Renewable Energy.
The plant will purchase 41-million bushels of corn annually to produce 110-million gallons of ethanol a year. Production at the plant is slated to begin in the Fall of 2008. Rastetter says site preparations for the 200 million dollar plant actually began a few months ago. He says they’ll have a local merchandiser on-hand to purchase corn from area producers.
"Robin Sampson is our grain merchandiser," Rastetter says, "we will buy farmer direct corn, as well as work with co-ops in the area to purchase corn from." There are currently 24 ethanol plants operating in Iowa, and another 22 under construction or in the planning stages. Rastetter says, contrary to some opinions, he thinks the market can support growth in the industry.
"We believe we can do both – food and energy production in this country," Rastetter says, "the increased corn acreage this spring showed that, we’re continuing to see that reflected in the market. We believe this country needs an energy policy, as well as a food policy, and I think livestock producers feel better now that prices have eased back a bit. Certainly we need (ethanol plants) for the rural economy rather than rely on subsidies and foreign oil, and it’s important for this country to keep this growth going."
The new plant near Menlo is expected to create around 40 new jobs.