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Agassiz Energy calls halt to ethanol plant equity drive

By Carol Stender

cstender@agrinews.com

ERSKINE, Minn. — Agassiz Energy LLC has announced a delay in plans to build a $115 million ethanol plant near Erskine because of the high cost of corn and lower prices for ethanol

Company president Don Sargeant said high corn prices and low prices for ethanol led to the decision Oct. 12.

Agassiz Energy was five weeks into its $55.8 million equity campaign and has postponed its application process with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It will return investor’s money.

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"We just want to be fair to the investors," Sargeant said. "I don’t think we will lose them. Ethanol has gotten a lot of press and has become well-known. Our investment meetings have been in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. We haven’t had this kind of opportunity in our region of northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota. It can help our rural economies."

He expects market conditions to improve and the equity drive to eventually resume.

The plant will be built for corn ethanol production with the possibilities of switching to cellulosic based ethanol, he said.

The company formed in 2004. Its first builder pulled out of the project and second construction firm raised its price from original estimates until a third company was found.

The 55 million gallon plant will be built in Erskine. Around 40 people are expected to be employed in the $115 million facility.

When the company formed, 30 investors pooled $1 million to start the process. Polk County approved $20 million in bonds earlier this year.

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