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Nebraska’s First Ethanol Plant Celebrates 25 Years
by Kristin Brekke

Chief Ethanol Fuels in Hastings, Nebraska recently celebrated its 25th year of operation, distinguishing itself as the state’s first ethanol plant.

An open house was held on November 23, with nearly 200 people in attendance and U.S. Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) giving the keynote address to commemorate the plant which began operations in 1984.

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 25 years ago, it has continued to produce high octane, clean burning ethanol around the clock for use across the state and the nation.

Bob Eihusen, President of Chief Industries, and Duane Kristensen, General Manager of Chief Ethanol Fuels, also spoke during the festivities.

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.

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," Sneller said. "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."

Chief Ethanol Fuels, by the numbers

§ 25,000,000-plus: Number of bushels of corn ground each year

§ Approximately 70,000,000: Number of gallons of ethanol produced each year

§ 650,000: Number of tons of distillers grains produced each year

§ 60: Number of full-time equivalent employees

§ 25,000: Number of trucks of corn processed per year

§ 23,000: Number of trucks of distillers grains shipped out each year

 
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The American Coalition for Ethanol publishes Ethanol Today magazine each month to cover the biofuels industry’s hot topics, including cellulosic ethanol, E85, corn ethanol, food versus fuel, ethanol’s carbon footprint, E10, E15, and mid-range ethanol blends.
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