Ethanol may begin flowing here in May

Doug Boock
Big River Resources CEO Raymond Defenbaugh says it's possible that ethanol will begin being made at the new Galva ethanol plant in May 2009.

Construction of the new Galva ethanol plant is moving along well, and ethanol could flow from it in Spring 2009, according to owner Big River Resources.

“Things are going on schedule - maybe a little ahead of schedule. We should be making ethanol sometime in early May,” Big River CEO Raymond Defenbaugh said Oct. 17.

The plant’s landscape has changed extensively the past several months. Many new structures have risen skyward as general contractor Fagen, Inc. continues to work daily on the $172 million project. Among structures seen are seven fermenters - those are the stainless steel silos seen lined up neatly in a row - two concrete silos to store DDGs (distillers dried grain) and one big flat storage building, also for DDGs.

“Construction-wise, as far as the plant is concerned, we’re probably two-thirds done,” said Gene Youngquist, Big River’s project coordinator, said Friday. “I think it’s gone well, considering the weather and the stress on ethanol and ethanol construction because of the price.”

Meanwhile, Big River continues to receive and ship corn from the former Lincoln Land Rail, the grain train on the plant’s east side.

The largest economic development project in Galva history, the plant will annually produce 100 million gallons of ethanol, plus DDGs.

“It’ll be sold locally and railed out both,” Youngquist said of DDGs. “We hope to develop a market here like we have at West Burlington, where 90 percent of our DDG market is local, and probably 80 percent of that is going to pork.”

Youngquist said Big River, based in West Burlington, Iowa, is ecstatic about the reception his company has received from Galva residents and city officials.

“We’re very mindful we’re in Galva, a community that appreciates the project. We hear that and see that every day. We’re thankful for that,” Youngquist said, raising his voice in enthusiasm.

“It’s good to work with the city and the people here. I think about every day or so we get a request for a job application from someone from here, and we’re just real happy about that.”

The plant will employ about 50 people, nearly all full-timers in operation, maintenance, material handling and lab work. The pay rates are generally considered to be good for the Galva area.

Youngquist said hirings will begin in about 30 to 60 days.

“It’s getting close,” he said.

To obtain an employment application, write to Big River Resources, in care of Deb Green, 15210 103rd St., West Burlington, IA 52655.