Poet to spend $120 million to expand Marion ethanol plant

Source: By JD Malone, The Columbus Dispatch • Posted: Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The ethanol refinery in Marion is going to get a lot bigger.

Poet Biorefining has announced plans to invest $120 million to expand the plant from a capacity of 70 million gallons of ethanol a year to about 150 million gallons a year.

Ethanol is used as an additive in gasoline to lower emissions and boost octane. Drivers might be familiar with signs on gas pumps that refer to gasoline commonly containing 10 percent to 15 percent ethanol. Some vehicles can also use E85, which is 85 percent ethanol.

“Marion proved to be the perfect location for this expansion,” said Rick Fox, general manager for Poet’s Marion site, in a press release. “This plant has continuously been a top performer with a creative, hard-working team, and we’re excited to be the site for Poet’s largest expansion ever.”

The expansion will also boost local farmers as the plant relies on locally grown corn. The plant currently uses about 24 million bushels a year and will consume about 50 million bushels after the expansion.

“That’s phenomenal,” said Bret Davis, a Delaware County farmer who sells just about all of his 1,800 acres of corn to Poet. “That gives us a great market.”

Poet’s corn purchases total $330 million dollars a year in Ohio, so the expansion is welcomed by Ohio growers, given that low commodity prices the past couple of years have dented profitability for most operations.

“It really helps us here in central Ohio,” Davis said.

The ethanol refineries also sell the leftover spent corn for animal feed, which is used by Ohio’s growing hog and chicken industries.

Construction on the plant expansion is set to begin this summer and run through fall of 2018. Poet said the expansion will create 18 to 21 new full-time jobs and 225 construction jobs.

Poet is based in South Dakota and has 27 refineries in seven states. Its three Ohio refineries are in Marion, Fostoria and Leipsic.