Iowa’s ethanol production sets a record in ’17

Source: By Mike Bell, Council Bluffs Nonpareil • Posted: Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Iowa’s ethanol industry celebrated a record-breaking year in 2017 as 43 plants produced 4.2 billion gallons, an increase from 2016.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association reported the increase is largely due to several plant expansions, increased demand of exports and higher blends, like E-15 fuel.

“Iowa continues to lead the country and the world in ethanol production and efficiency,” association executive director Monte Shaw said in a release. “Several plant expansions just finished or will finish during the 1st quarter of 2018, so production could jump again next year.”

Brian Cahill, president, CEO and general manager at the Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy plant south of Council Bluffs, said part of the growth is credited to increased demands.

“A lot of the blended pumps in Minnesota and Nebraska have led to a larger need,” he said.

The SIRE plant has increased its annual capacity from 125 million to 140 million gallons recently — expansions other ethanol plants are also doing, Cahill said.

“This affects not just the ethanol facilities, but employees benefit in different industries,” he said. Product transportation services through trains and trucking have felt the impact, as have those who grow the corn for ethanol.

“Ethanol is renewable, better for the environment and is grown right here in the U.S. Those are all benefits,” Cahill said.

The association said its top priority for 2018 is to secure funding for the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program to help more retailers offer ethanol blends.