AURORA, Neb. (AP) — A corn-fed ethanol plant in south-central Nebraska that has been idle since 2012 has reopened thanks to an improved market, a company executive said.
Aventine Renewable Energy Inc. has resumed operation of its Vogelbusch Nebraska Energy LLC plant near Aurora. Aventine President and CEO Mark Beemer told The Grand Island Independent that corn prices are hovering around $3.50 a bushel, compared with nearly $8 a bushel in August 2012.
"We decided to restart it due to the positive ethanol margin environment," Beemer said.
Aventine has a second plant in Hamilton County, called Aurora West, that has been producing ethanol from beet sugar but will switch to corn by this fall, Beemer said.
It's unclear whether that corn will be purchased from the Aurora Cooperative Elevator, which has been locked in a legal struggle with Aventine. The cooperative sued Aventine over rail access and corn-supply agreements in connection with the Aurora West plant.
Both sides accuse the other of violating the corn purchase agreement. They've been negotiating a settlement, but Beemer told the Lincoln Journal Star they aren't close to settling their differences. Co-op spokeswoman Dawn Caldwell told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the smaller Vogelbusch plant isn't using corn from the co-op.
The co-op said in a statement that it wants both plants "to be fully functional and operating to create additional markets for our grain producer-owners. The Aurora Cooperative will continue to seek opportunities to settle with Aventine."
Caldwell said, "We want the plants to be successful."
Pekin, Illinois-based Aventine also has plants in Pekin and Dayton, Illinois.