Expansion complete for local plant

Tony Parra: PNT staff writer

Gov. Bill Richardson and Sen. Pete Domenici will be guest speakers at Tuesday’s open house celebrating of Abengoa Corp.’s expansion project.

The expansion will double the plant’s ethanol production from 15 to 30 million gallons a year, according to officials.
Richardson and Domenici, R-N.M., who have expressed concerns over the dependence of oil from overseas, will speak about renewable fuel at 11 a.m. Plant tours are scheduled for 1 p.m.

“It’s very exciting,” said Chris Standlee, the vice president and general counsel for Abengoa. “The expansion is completely installed. We’re absolutely thrilled to have them speak at our open house.”

Standlee said the plant added new equipment such as tanks and hardware for ethanol processing. He said about six employees were added for the expansion.

“It’s a pretty significant ethanol producer and it’s going to double in size,” Ned Farquhar, senior advisor on energy and environment for Richardson’s office, said. “The governor wants to applaud that.”

Ethanol plants also produce a by-product called wet distillers, which is used in dairy feed.

On the federal level, the U.S. House on Thursday passed the comprehensive energy bill by a vote of 275 to 156. It was passed by the Senate on Friday, 76-24.

One of the ethanol mandate requires fuel manufacturers to use 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol in gasoline by 2012, a move that is projected to reduce oil consumption by 80,000 barrels a day by 2012, according to Energy Information Administration.

The Abengoa Corp. also has U.S. plants in York, Neb., and Colwich, Kan., which produce 55 million and 25 million gallons of ethanol each year respectively. There are more than 100 ethanol plants in the United States, according to the Renewable Fuels Association Web site.

Richardson served as U.S. Secretary of Energy from Aug. 18, 1998 to 2001.

“He is a big supporter of renewable fuel,” Farquhar said. “He wants to increase the amount of ethanol in the state fleet. He wants to see the possibilities of an increase in state vehicles.”