Nebraska's first fuel ethanol plant to celebrate 25th anniversary
Nebraska recently took over the number two spot in the nation in terms of ethanol production. And it all started in Hastings in 1984 with the dedication of the plant now known as Chief Ethanol Fuels.
Chief Ethanol Fuels in Hastings held an open house to commemorate its 25th year of operation Nov. 23.
Originally constructed by American Diversified Corporation, the plant was purchased by Chief Industries of Grand Island, Nebraska, in November 1990. It was the first commercial scale fuel ethanol production plant in the state and, since it started production in 1984, has continued to produce high-octane, clean-burning ethanol 24 hours a day, seven days a week--shipping it across the state and across the nation.
Since 1984, production capacity has increased from 10 million gallons per year to approximately 70 million gallons per year today, thanks to several expansions that began in 1993 and continuous improvements today. Corn consumption at the plant has grown from 4 million bushels per year to more than 25 million bushels annually. The plant purchases corn from area elevators and farmers within a 60-mile radius.
Chief Ethanol Fuels also produces distillers grains, a co-product of ethanol production that is fed to cattle. Chief Ethanol markets its wet distillers grains to area feedlots. The plant also dries some of the product for shipment as far as the west coast.
Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, said that the Chief Ethanol Fuels plant was Nebraska's initial stake in the ground in terms of declaring ethanol as a major economic development initiative for the state. "Nebraska has a unique combination of corn, cattle and ethanol," said Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board. "Agriculture is the economic engine that drives Nebraska, and ethanol is adding value in very powerful ways that reverberate throughout our state. It is important that we continue to support and develop this industry for the good of Nebraska and for the good of our nation. Chief Ethanol Fuels has been a pioneer and leader in the state's ethanol industry."
Sneller added that the outlook for the sustainability of the ethanol industry is good. "Corn producers continue to grow more corn on less land and with less water--and ethanol producers continue to squeeze more ethanol out of a bushel of corn with less energy and less water," he said. "Efficiency will improve profitability and will continue to position ethanol as a key component in America's energy and economic future."
Established in 1971, the Ethanol Board assists ethanol producers with programs and strategies for marketing ethanol and related co-products. The Board supports organizations and policies that advocate the increased use of ethanol fuels--and administers public information, education and ethanol research projects. The Board also assists companies and organizations in the development of ethanol production facilities in Nebraska. For more information, please visit www.ne-ethanol.org.