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Posted on  

December 16, 2002

New ethanol plant to be considered at meeting

By RICHARD VOLESKY, The Dickinson Press

SCRANTON - A public meeting will be held here next week to explore the idea of building an ethanol plant in the region.

The meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 18 at the Scranton Community Center. The idea includes building the plant in the Richardton area.

"What this is in an informational meeting is to see if there would be a mood in going toward a feasibility study," said Mark Erickson of Scranton. He wants to gauge the reaction of public and area ag producers.

Whether the facility would be financed through a cooperative-style equity drive, through investors or by other means isn't yet known.

Erickson is the district sales manager for Rea Hybrids of Aberdeen, S.D. The company sells hybrids seeds for corn, sunflowers and other grains.

Erickson said the idea for the enthanol plant, which would use corn, was born out of discussions among himself, Ambrose Hoff of Stone Mill Farms Inc., and Jody Hoff of Amber Waves Inc., both of Richardton. Stone Mill deals with speciality crops, while Amber Waves manufacturers grain hoppers.

Erickson said the estimated cost of building an ethanol plant would be $53 million. A plant of that scale would employ about 40 people, he said.
Although Richardton is the suggested location for the plant, that is not at all written in stone, said Erickson. But such a location, along Interstate 94 and near railway access, would be preferred because of its access to transportation.

The Richardton area also approximates the midpoint between Mandan and Glendive, Mont. Ethanol could be blended with gasoline at either the Mandan or Glendive refineries.

Although corn isn't a major crop in the area, Erickson said that essentially is one of those "chicken and the egg scenarios." If there was a greater need for corn, then more would probably be produced in the region, he said.

Since southwestern North Dakota is also cattle country, there's the potential of a good market for using the byproducts of ethanol manufacturing for cattle feed. The feed typically would have to be dried to prevent it from spoiling, but since local cattle producers would be involved, it could be sold and used in only a few days, said Erickson.

Selling the feed wet would save the ethanol facility money, plus it would provide a cheaper feed to ranchers.



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