Perhaps the dynamics and economics have changed for those wanting to invest in ethanol plants over the past couple of years. But that hasn't stopped one of the nation's largest owners of ethanol plants from moving forward. POET opened a new ethanol plant near Alexandria in Madison County just last week.
POET operates 23 facilities nationwide, producing 1.33 billion gallons of ethanol per year. They have four more plants under construction or in development, including another one in Indiana.
In announcing the Alexandria site, POET announced that this particular plant should utilize 22 million bushels of corn and produce 65 million gallons of ethanol per year. It will also produce 178,000 tons of what the company markets as Dakota Gold Enhanced Nutrition Distillers Products per year. The byproducts are actually managed by a separate division of the company, called POET Nutrition.
The next POET plant expected to come on line in Indiana is located near North Manchester. Look for it to begin production later this year. Another plant not related to the POET effort, Cardinal Ethanol, also looks to get up and running this year. That one in east-central Indiana is still heavily farmer –owned. And in Putnam County, the plant near Cloverdale at last report was also to begin producing ethanol at some time during this year.
The POET plant at Alexandria wasn't greeted with open arms at first. The area has become home to several large confinement livestock operations, and antennae are up in public circles about potential downside risks of having these major ag businesses in the community. However, based upon the reception POET officials received at a special Ag Day luncheon held in Alexandria in March, public opinion has begun to turn in their favor.
POET is the same company which is also experimented with corn cobs for cellulosic ethanol production. One of their plants in the Western Corn Belt is processing corn cobs for ethanol in a pilot project. The cobs were collected by farmers with experimental machinery for cob harvesting last fall.
While not all livestock producers are happy that ethanol plants continue to spring up, especially since they continue to receive government incentives, while their feed prices soar higher. However, Chris Novak, executive director of the Indiana Corn Growers Association and the Indiana Soybean growers hailed the opening of the most recent POET plant in Indiana as continued indication that there are many positives coming from the robust alternative fuels industry currently blossoming in Indiana.