Abengoa shuts down temporarily

By Sarah Meyer, PNT Staff Writer

Abengoa Bioenergy in Portales is shutting down temporarily, according to Chris Standlee, executive vice president of the ethanol production plant.

Standlee said Wednesday the plant is “laying off some staff” because of the “general economy in the industry.”

“We’re operating plants the best we can under market conditions,” he said.

Some staff will be kept on the site, Stanley said.

The plant normally employs more than 40 people, he said. He declined to provide an exact number of how many workers were being laid off.

Greg Fisher, director of economic development for the Roosevelt County Community Development Corp., said he met with Standlee late Wednesday afternoon. Fisher said Standlee told him the plant could be shut down for weeks or months.

“It’s really a factor of the market price for fuel,” Fisher said.

Fisher said the RCCDC will be “working aggressively to try to find some alternative energy sources to feed the plant and working with state and local leaders to try to find a way to help Abengoa.”

Fisher said there was a bid earlier this year to buy the plant, but it wasn’t acceptable to Abengoa.

“They weren’t going to give it away,” he said.

The Portales plant has the capacity to produce 30 million gallons of ethanol per year from grain sorghum, Standlee said.

Abengoa owns and operates five bioethanol facilities throughout the United States and Europe with a total production capacity of 195 million gallons, according to its Web site.