by Jonathan Eisenthal
The Claremont Minnesota ethanol plant, Al-Corn Clean Fuel, celebrated its 20th anniversary this August. Al-Corn makes a million gallons of ethanol, 2.5 tons of distillers grains animal feed, and 170,000 pounds of corn oil every week. In the first quarter of this year, it processed 4.4 million bushels of corn and the plant had close to zero downtime.
“Al-Corn Clean Fuel really is the story of ethanol,” says Bob Dineen, president and CEO of Renewable Fuels Association, a leading ethanol industry organization.
Dineen spoke at a special celebratory dinner for members of Al-Corn in Owatonna this past week.
“Built at a time when the future of the ethanol industry was anything but secure, a few courageous investors intent upon establishing a vital value added market took a leap of faith,” sayd Dinenne. “That faith has since rejuvenated the rural community and become a source of great pride as the plant contributes to America’s energy, economic and environmental security. We congratulate Al-Corn Clean Fuel on its anniversary and look forward to many more.”
Randall Doyall, CEO of Al-Corn, has been involved in the ethanol industry for nearly four decades and currently serves as chairman of Renewable Fuels Association.
Doyal recounted a meeting with other ethanol industry pioneers back in the very early days when U.S. ethanol production was at a billion gallons. At the time, the group was trying to imagine the future of ethanol.
“We were trying to dream about what size the industry could look like,” says Doyal. “We were thinking three billion, maybe four billion gallons. And one person said, ‘Your dreams are too small. You guys need to shape up. Think big!”
And of course, by the time the first Renewable Fuels Standard passed they were already exceeding the mandated amount. Today, U.S. ethanol makers produce 15 billion gallons and export about a billion gallons a year.
Doyal and Al-Corn staff kicked off the day-long anniversary celebration with E85 promotions held at two KwikTrip fueling stations in Owatonna. For 85 minutes, drivers were able to purchase E85 for 85 cents a gallon. Motorists lined up out of the station lot to get in on the good deal. Minnesota Corn Growers Association and American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest, along with Al-Corn employees, partnered together for the event.