POET Biorefining – Macon will temporarily suspend plant operations effective Feb. 1 due primarily to a lack of available local corn.
Macon produced its first ethanol in May of 2000, starting with an annual production capacity of 15 million gallons. Three years later, the plant expanded its capacity to 46 million gallons per year and added the production of Dakota Gold© Distillers Grains and carbon dioxide.
POET Biorefining – Macon was the first ethanol plant in the state of Missouri and is the largest company by revenue in Northeast Missouri. It employs 45 people and 14 of the original 27 employees still work at the plant while four others are employed at other POET biorefineries. The plant was recognized by the EPA in 2007 with an ENERGY STAR CHP Award for a Combined Heat and Power partnership with Macon Municipal Utilities that started in 2003.
All of the plant's 44 team members will remain employed at their current hours. Many will assist in installation of the approximately $14.5 million in upgrades to the plant that will occur during the down time. The plant will also continue to purchase corn for future use as it is available. There is currently no timeline for resuming production.
The Macon plant is located in one of the worst-hit areas of last season's drought, leaving it unable to source corn locally or bring corn in from other areas at a competitive price.
"Macon has been a very successful plant within the POET network," POET CEO Jeff Lautt said. "Once conditions improve, I know the plant and its hard-working team members will continue to make POET-Biorefining – Macon a star."
The plant is in the early stages of construction on a number of upgrades that will improve profitability further once production resumes. Those include:
Voilà™ corn oil technology, which will provide an additional product for new revenue
Full BPX technology, POET's patented "no-cook" process that significantly reduces heat/energy use
A new control system
A new, more efficient evaporator
A new administration building and scale house
"We're all excited to see these upgrades taking effect," Board President John Eggleston said. "It's investments like these that will ensure continued long-term success for the plant."