Lima ethanol plant celebrates grand opening

Guardian Lima celebrated the grand opening of their ethanol plant with city officials, company representatives, local farmers and area agribusinesses on September 15th. The plant will produce 54 million gallons of ethanol a year and expects to buy 20 million bushels of corn next year.

They have been buying grain since the middle of February and started dumping in March. Actual ethanol has been being produced at the plant since June, but they chose to hold off on their grand opening.

“Knowing the past challenges of the plant, we did want to start the plant quietly,” Guardian Engergy Holdings CEO, Don Gales said. “We wanted to have everything running smoothly and earn the trust of the community.”

Gales said they were attracted to the plant and location because of the crush margin, which took into consideration what price they could pay for corn and what they could sell the ethanol and dried distillers grain for.

He admits they were nervous about the actual facility, because of all the problems with it.

They hired ICM, a leader in the ethanol industry to assess the plant. They were comfortable with plan that was proposed and ended up gutting the facility. Gales said, “the only thing we kept were the actual structures.”  They ended up investing about $30 million dollars reengineering the facility.

Guardian Lima sits right next to I-75 just outside of Lima.

Commodity Manager Tyler Miller said they are getting most of their corn by truck, though they have gotten some by rail. Farmers are able to sell directly to them, but they do rely heavily on local co-ops and elevators.

More than 165,000 tons of dried distillers grain will be produced annually and will be marketed by the Renewable Products Marketing Group.

The opening of the plant was welcomed by the city of Lima and the local community since it had sat idol since 2008. The original facility was started and owned by Great Ohio Ethanol that later filed for bankruptcy. None of the original staff remain.

Guardian Energy Holdings is a joint venture between Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company in Benson, Minn., Heartland Corn Products in Winthrop, Minn., and KAAPA Ethanol, LLC in Minden, Neb. These companies are farmer and locally owned ethanol production companies.

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