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Alberta ethanol plant construction plans on schedule

By Tom Larson

Sun Tribune

The APEC ethanol plant project is on schedule, according to plant officials, and utilization of different technology means the proposed plant will use less ground water than first anticipated.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency permitting continues, and first phase construction of the 100 million gallon per year plant is planned to begin in early- to mid-summer, said Jason Carter, vice president of operations for Greenway Consulting.

"Permitting is taking longer than we had hoped, but for the start of construction we're still looking at a summer start date," Carter said.

The proposed plant is expected to cost $185 million, and it will use an estimated 36 million bushels of corn per year to produce the 100 million gallons of ethanol. In addition, the process will produce annually 324,000 tons of distillers dried grains with soluables, which are used as a high-protein feed product.

According to Carter, APEC is finalizing a contract with its process provider and should have that finalized soon. APEC also has submitted its final rail design to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad for final approval, which would allow the plants to ship unit trains of ethanol , DDGS and also receive unit trains of corn, if necessary.

Progress is being made on the electrical and gas infrastructure for the site, Carter said. APEC is working with U.S. Energy from Minneapolis on the tap for the gas line to the facility, and with the local electric providers for temporary and permanent power to the site.

The final layout of the plant has been completed, and plant officials are working on Phase I and Phase II site plans.

The DENCO ethanol plant in Morris, APEC and the proposed Minn-Dak plant being planned in Chokio also had been working with officials from the proposed Western Prairie Rural Water system about providing water for the facilities.

However, the Western Prairie Rural Water group has focused its attentions on a different aquifer, and APEC no longer is involved in the proposed project, Carter said.

"At this point, we're doing our own thing," he said.

Instead, APEC is working to tap into two different aquifers for its water, and technology that is being used in a few ethanol plants in the U.S. is being proposed for the APEC plant. The water recycling technology will increase the project's total cost, but APEC will cut its water consumption by an estimated 40 percent from its original estimates because of the ability to eliminate discharge and reuse water in the process, Carter said.

"There will be no liquid discharge out of the plant," Carter said.

APEC has approval from Stevens County for rezoning of the property, and is working under the JOBZ program to swap land designated in the City of Morris and designate it for use for the Alberta project. All local government bodies have approved the certification for JOBZ, which offers businesses various tax breaks for development or redevelopment that creates jobs.