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State on ethanol: bring your own bottle

North Dakota State Roundup

July 1, 2004

State on ethanol: bring your own bottle

A proposed ethanol plant outside Richardton is going forward, without the hoped-for funds from the state.

Red Tail Energy LLC, the developer of the projected $80 million coal-fired facility, asked the state for $28.2 million last December. The money was to come from a fund dedicated to researching the properties of lignite, a form of coal abundant in North Dakota , which would be used at the plant. Red Tail cut the request to $5 million, but in late May, the state's Lignite Research Council advised the state to spend no more than $350,000.

That figure was suggested in an earlier study by a consulting firm and financed by the coal industry. It suggested that while the plant will be beneficial, and competitive with other producers, it will use only 133,000 tons per year of the state's 31 million ton annual output, a share too small to justify such a large grant.

Undeterred by the report, Red Tail plans to proceed in financing and development of the plant, which will also contain a 2-megawatt electric turbine and produce distillers' grain as a byproduct, to be sold for livestock feed.

Joe Mahon