Governor says large ethanol plant coming to Clovis

By Marlena Hartz: Freedom Newspapers

An ethanol plant that will more than triple New Mexico’s ethanol output plans to operate in Clovis, according to a press release from Gov. Bill Richardson.

More than 100 million gallons of ethanol derived from corn will be produced annually at the plant, the release said.

The plant will be situated on ConAgra Trade Group’s Peavy grain elevator property, near its existing grain elevators on U.S. Highway 60/84.

New Mexico has one other ethanol plant, Abengoa in Portales, which currently produces 30 million gallons annually, according to the release.
The plant is expected to generate more than 100 jobs, with 50 positions at the plant and 50 to 75 indirect jobs in service of the plant, according to the release.

Another 300 should be employed in the construction of the plant, which is slated to begin in October 2007, with online production following in late 2007.

The venture is a partnership between Carlyle/Riverstone Renewable Energy Infrastructure Fund I, L.P. and the ConAgra Trade Group, although ConAgra is a minority partner, the release said.

For various reasons, the companies chose Clovis as an operating site, according to Tania Graves of ConAgra Foods.

Available workforce in the region, as well as the convenience of the grain elevator and the railroad were major draws, she said.

“We believe the renewable fuels segment of the energy industry is just beginning to grow,” Riverstone Managing Director Michael Hoffman said in the release.

It is likely the alternative fuel will be transported via the BNSF Railway, located just a few feet away from the ConAgra grain elevator property, Graves said.

“This ethanol plant is another step in the right direction,” Richardson said in his release.

“By promoting American-made fuel, like ethanol, we show that we can help the local economy, combat climate change and keep the country safer.”

Ethanol can be blended with gasoline to fuel vehicles, though in certain vehicles, it can be used alone.

Graves said she did not know how the Clovis plant would produce its ethanol.

But most ethanol plants in the U.S. produce ethanol through a dry milling process, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture Web site. The sugars in a plant must be fermented to produce the alcohol-based fuel, which has been used since the 1800s.

Energy concerns, however, have renewed interest in the fuel.
ConAgra will supply corn for the venture and energy inputs for the plant, as well as market and distribute the plant’s outputs, including ethanol and distillers grains.

The Trade Group, a subsidiary of ConAgra Foods — one of the largest packaged food companies in North America — will also provide logistics and risk management services for the plant.

New Hope Partners, LLC, a Pennsylvania-based company, is also assisting CRREIF and Trade Group in the ethanol project.