Three Rivers Energy is investing an additional $10 million into its Coshocton facility because of its production being higher than original estimates.
Company President Jim Galvin said a new storage bin doubling current corn capacity to 1 million bushels will be completed by October and a new system for production of corn oil is targeted to be online Aug. 1.
The biofuels refinery originally was predicted to make about 45 million gallons of ethanol per year when it started production last October. Galvin said that’s closer to 50 million gallons now, and they hope to be above that in three years. He credits that to a growing ethanol market and the hard work of the 35-person local staff. Along with ethanol, they make distillers grains to feed livestock and corn oil. Production of carbon dioxide, which can be used by bottling companies, is still on the horizon.
Aside from routine maintenance, the plant has been operating 24 hours per day, seven days per week since October. When the facility first opened as the Coshocton Ethanol Plant in February 2008, it never put more than three days worth of production together before shutting down completely 10 months later. C.E. Acquisitions, a partnership between Lakeview Energy and Crestwood Energy of Illinois, purchased the bonds on the plant in 2012 and the facility itself in spring 2013.
Work to reopen the plant began last July, and an open house commemorating that took place Monday. Guest speakers were Congressman Bob Gibbs, CEO of Grown Energy Tom Buis, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Administrator Lillian Salerno and former presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark. All stressed how Three Rivers Energy is a prime example of how the U.S. can become a global leader in energy production through biofuels and reduce its own need on foreign oil.
“The key to fixing this economy and moving forward is energy. I didn’t say ethanol, I didn’t say oil, I said energy,” Clark said. “We’ve got to export our energy products and take over that market place around the world. … I’d like to see oil stop fighting natural gas and natural gas and oil stop fighting biofuels. We’re all in this together.”
For the local economy, port authority director Dorothy Skowrunski said the facility provides not only jobs and an outlet for farmers’ corn but also an enticement for other industries to possibly move to Coshocton. That could be new farms that can use the distillers grains to feed livestock or a brewery that can use the to-be-sold carbon dioxide.
Galvin didn’t have a timeline, but he said capturing carbon dioxide, a byproduct of ethanol making, still was a goal as is increasing efficiency. Part of that efficiency is using V Frac technology from Valicor to increase corn oil production from a half-pound per bushel of corn to 1 pound. Another part is the use of Enogen corn, created by Syngenta, when corn crops come in this fall.
Enogen has an enzyme already in the kernels that helps break down starch, eliminating the need for the enzyme, similar to saliva, needing to be introduced into the ethanol process. About 6,000 acres of the corn were planted this spring within a 60-mile radius of Coshocton for the plant’s use. About 12,000 acres are targeted for next year.
Galvin said that would be the limit for the plant as about 10 to 15 percent Enogen corn is blended with the regular corn. Enogen corn already is being used at Lakeview’s Iowa plant, Plymouth Energy.
Corn is about $3.80 per bushel and Three Rivers will pay an additional 40 cents per bushel for Enogen corn.
Between 40,000 and 50,000 bushels of corn per day are going into the facility to make roughly 145,000 gallons of ethanol. That’s up from 130,000 gallons per day shortly after operations began in fall 2013. Currently, the facility can store about 500,000 bushels of corn and that lasts about eight and a half days. Distillers grains used to feed pigs, cows and chickens is more than 500 tons per day. Many local farmers use it, but Galvin said they’ve exported some of the distillers grains to China.
Around 120 trucks are coming into the plant daily. Ohio Central Railroad also is used for bringing in corn. Interstate Commodities of Troy, New York, contracts with local farmers and also works with the Coshocton Grain Co. on supplying corn.
Galvin said they receive corn from 250 to 300 farmers within a 60- to 70-mile radius of the plant with 100 of those farmers in Coshocton County.
About 90 percent of the ethanol produced stays in Ohio for use at oil refineries. The rest is exported, and Galvin is hoping that market continues to grow as U.S. ethanol shipping to Canada and South America has increased in the past year, leading to a steady ethanol market overall.
“We’re not doing anything extraordinary. We don’t need to. We need to do the basic things right,” Galvin said.
“I spent about a year here in 2011, and there were two cars parked. The place was eerie, it was empty. Now you drive in and you see the trucks, you see the people, you see the suppliers come in with different things, and it’s fantastic.”
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From Coshocton Tribune | July 15, 2014
By Leonard Hayhurst, Staff Writer