The long-suffering ethanol plant at Cloverdale, not far north of I-70, is about to get a new lease on life. POET Biorefining, one of the leaders in the U.S. in ethanol production, is slated to officially hold a grand opening for the plant on March 15.
In fact, POET is inviting the public to attend and take tours of the facility. Tours will be offered at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. eastern time. A celebration program featuring POET CEO Jeff Broin and Lt. Governor Becky Skillman is slated for 11 a.m.
If you plan to attend, you can park off-site at Martin Marietta Aggregates on US Highway 231, and take a shuttle to the plant. Buses will run continuously.
The plant that opens March 15 is not the same plant that tried to make a go of it before, POET says. The company has invested $30 million in upgrades so that the plant can utilize POET's patented fermentation process. This process uses enzymes instead of heat, and reduces energy costs. Other investments during remodeling include a new water recovery system and new pollution control equipment.
More than 40 people are expected to work at the plant once it's up and running. The plant is expected to produce 90 million gallons of grain ethanol per year. POET claims that when the plant is in full production, total production of ethanol in Indiana will top one billion gallons per year.
Opening of the plant should help strengthen corn markets for local farmers. A Greene County farmer told Indiana Prairie Farmer that he now will have two choices—either to haul to the GPC ethanol plant at Washington, or to haul to POET at Cloverdale. GPC works on a smaller volume, and makes ethanol for special uses.
The farmer is hoping that the ability to go either direction will give him an advantage and help him net the best possible price for his corn. Especially when corn supplies are tight, he's hoping the plants will need to bid up to get corn to keep running at their necessary production levels.
It's not clear how far-reaching the effect of this new opening may be on corn prices. But it will certainly help on providing another outlet for corn.
Ironically, former president Bill Clinton issued a negative attack on ethanol production from corn during a conference in Washington D.C. last week. The National Corn Growers Association responded with a short reply that simply says they disagree with his implications.