Proposed ethanol plant slated to be finished in '09

By the News Staff, The Hutchinson News. February 27, 2007

A Texas energy company expects to finish a proposed ethanol plant in Haskell County by early 2009.

Panda Ethanol of Dallas announced plans in 2005 to build an ethanol plant between Satanta and Sublette that would be powered by methane extracted from cattle manure. The facility would produce 105 million gallons per year of the corn- and milo-based fuel additive.

Construction was originally to have started in the spring of 2006, which would have had it operable by late 2007. But the company said this week that it expects to finish the plant by March 2009.

"Right now we're in the permitting and financing phase of the project," said Bill Pentak, company spokesman.

Panda also announced that it had inked an accord with Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings of Pekin, Ill., to market the ethanol that comes out of the Haskell County facility, as well as another it plans to build in Yuma, Colo.

"If you're producing a commodity, you want to be able to sell it," said Pentak.

The Haskell County plant would employ around 60 people.

Haskell County tapped for ethanol plant

By LeROY WILSON, The Garden City Telegram, September 20, 2005)

A Dallas company has announced plans to build a 100-million gallon ethanol plant in Haskell County, and it's something county officials are excited about.

Panda Energy Co. plans to build the plant between Sublette and Satanta, north of U.S. Highway 56.

"We're looking to employ approximately 62 people from the area at the plant when completed," said Haskell County Commissioner Bill Lower. He said the county has the resources to make it a viable project and "we are pleased Panda has chosen Haskell County to build its manure-powered ethanol plant."

Lower said Haskell county, as well as surrounding counties, feeds nearly 300,000 or more head of cattle in special feed lots and "that is one of the main reasons the county was selected."

Other factors considered during Panda's study were the railroad, water supply, availability of corn and milo, as well as the large feedlot operations.

"There are many factors in the decision process," said Rhett Hurless, vice president of development for Panda.

"Once the plant is completed," Hurless said, "the salary base alone will generate $2.5 million annually and the incidental purchase from the area will exceed $3 million."

Harold Green, spokesman for Panda, said this morning that construction is slated to begin in early 2006, with completion scheduled for early 2007.

"It will cost approximately $120 million for the construction and will be employing local citizens during the construction period," he said.

The plant will use a billion pounds of cattle manure each year as a renewable fuel to power the plant's operations. The facility will refine corn and milo into fuel ethanol that will be blended with gasoline to produce a clean, low-cost fuel, according to a Panda news release.

The ethanol produced will replace the need to import 100 million gallons of gasoline each year.

The Haskell project is Panda's third fuel ethanol project announced this year. In May, Panda announced a 100-million gallon plant in Hereford, Texas, and in August the company announced that its second facility would be built in Yuma, Colo. The combined production of the three plants will replace 300 million gallons of imported gasoline annually. These projects will use a total of 3 billion pounds of cattle manure a year as a renewable fuel.

The manure is gasified and converted into a clean bio-gas used to power the plant. By utilizing bio-gas produced from manure instead of natural gas, each facility will save the equivalent of 1,000 barrels of oil per day, according to the news release.

"With the recent rise in gas prices and natural disasters impacting U.S. oil production, the need for the U.S. to develop alternative fuel sources becomes even more critical. We must protect our future by moving away from foreign oil, thereby creating new means to produce fuel domestically," Todd Carter, president of Panda Development Group, said in the news release. "The ethanol produced by our Haskell facility will play a major role in securing America's energy independence. By using manure instead of natural gas to power the plant, we conserve another of our country's depleting natural resources."

Headquartered in Dallas, Panda Energy is a privately held company that has built more than 9,000 megawatt of electric generation capacity at a cost of $5 billion. Panda currently is developing fuel ethanol plants, biomass electric generating facilities, bio-diesel plants and is also actively working on next generation clean coal projects throughout the United States.

Cattle manure would power new ethanol plant in Haskell Co.

By Tim Vandenack, The Hutchinson News, Sept. 20, 2005

A Texas company sees gold, so to speak, in the refuse of southwest Kansas' feedlots.

Panda Energy of Dallas announced Monday that it plans to build a 100-million-gallon-per-year ethanol complex near Sublette in Haskell County, using cattle manure to fuel plant operations.

"We would use a renewable fuel to make a renewable fuel - ethanol," said Harold Green, a company spokesman.

Panda's proposal, in the works since early this year but kept under wraps until Monday, is one of many to produce the corn- and milo-based fuel additive in the state's southwest corner.

But ethanol plants generally are powered by natural gas, and the Texas firm's complex here - or one of two others it is planning elsewhere - apparently would be the first to be fueled by cattle waste.

The plant would be the largest in the state and the same size as another to be built in Ulysses by St. Louis-based North American Bioenergy Resources.

Green said Panda still must obtain an air permit from Kansas environmental authorities and secure financing to build the $120 million Haskell County complex, but company officials don't foresee any problems in the process.

"It's a good deal," said Bill Lower, chairman of the Haskell County commission, noting the 60 or so jobs the plant would create and the overall impact on the rural county's economy. "Everybody I've talked to is pretty excited about it."

Construction at the site off U.S. 56, about three miles west of Sublette, would start as soon as Panda secures funding, which company officials say could be in March or April of next year, according to Lower. Construction would take about a year.

Numerous ethanol proposals are in the works around the region, in part because of the ready access in the area's feedlots to a market for distiller's grain, a byproduct in the production process that serves as cattle feed. For Panda, which also plans to build manure-powered ethanol plants in Hereford, Texas, and Yuma, Colo., the feedlots also serve as a ready source for energy.

When heated, manure - the Haskell County plant would need about a billion pounds of the stuff per year - can be converted into a gas similar to methane, making it a viable energy source. The end result, according to Green, is ethanol produced with less energy than otherwise possible in natural gas-fired plants.

"We think it makes these the most efficient plants in the United States," he said.

Ed Stahl, an ethanol consultant for Golden, Colo.-based BBI International, said the fact that the plant is using gas produced from manure is significant, mainly in regard to the hoped-for effect on the company's bottom line.

"Apparently, Panda thinks another advantage (to the area's feedlots) is the manure they make," he said.

Still, Mary Jane Stankiewicz of the Topeka-based Kansas Association of Ethanol Processors said there's "kind of a split" in the industry on the potential of using manure to power ethanol plants. Part of the concern stems from the ability to maintain a steady supply of manure at all times.

Lower said some residents have voiced concerns about the proposal stemming from plans to use cattle waste, but he thinks the site's rural location will forestall any problems. Green said the ethanol production process in a plant powered by manure would be clean.

Panda would receive a 10-year, 50-percent tax abatement on its county property taxes to build in Haskell County, according to Lower. County officials also would improve roads around the plant site to accommodate the estimated 150 trucks per day that would travel in and out of the location.

Ethanol is mixed with gasoline, reducing dependence on foreign oil, proponents say. Federal lawmakers recently called for increased production of the additive through 2012, lending a boost to the industry.

09/20/2005; 1:29:41 AM