LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- Minnesota-based Epitome Energy LLC announced plans to build a $400 million soybean-crushing plant just north of Grand Forks, North Dakota, with plans to start production in fall of 2025, the company's CEO told the Grand Forks City Council on Monday.
Epitome CEO and founder Dennis Egan made an official announcement on the project, citing the company's frustrations with the state of Minnesota in completing the needed air permitting process at Epitome's intended construction site in Crookston, Minnesota, as the reason for the move.
Egan told the city council the company changed plans because the state of Minnesota's permitting process had been taking more than a year and created a lot of "uncertainty" about the future of the plant at the site.
Construction on the new plant at the 55-acre Grand Forks site is expected to break ground in 2023.
"We spent the last 16 months working with MPCA (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) on the air permit," Egan told the council.
"And it's just the uncertainty in terms of where that was going to go. We knew we were going to get an air permit because they put that out to public comment. But it's the types of conditions that they wanted to put on a processing facility that no other plant in the United States would be looking at. And so we decided, three, four months ago that we were going to look for an alternative site."
EXPECTED TO STRENGTHEN SOYBEAN BASIS
Currently, many farmers in the Red River Valley have to transport soybeans for processing at least 100 miles, the company said. Epitome Energy said a Grand Forks plant is projected to strengthen basis for soybeans by 20 cents to 25 cents per bushel and expects to process up to 42 million bushels annually.
The company said the plant is expected to create 50 to 60 permanent jobs and generate more than $300 million in new economic activity.
The plant is expected to produce more than 940,000 tons of soybean meal per year, 60 million gallons of crude degummed soybean oil and 84,000 tons of soybean hulls.
Epitome Energy said soybean production in the Red River Valley has grown by more than 300% in the past 20 years.
The meal market for livestock alone, the company said, is more than 375,000 tons within a 100-mile radius of the plant's location. That includes turkey, hog and dairy industries.
The company executed a letter of intent to build on a greenfield site just north of Grand Forks, the company said. The site features full access to rail, freeways and all necessary utilities.
North Dakota in recent years has seen an explosion of companies announcing plans to build soybean crush plants including at Spiritwood in Jamestown and in Casselton. Both projects have received the necessary permits to begin construction.
"One of the big questions that we get asked is availability of the soybean," Egan told the council, showing a map of the coverage area of each project including the Grand Forks plant.
Soybean availability for each plant, he said, shows very little overlap between the projects.
Egan said the Grand Forks plant will operate in a region experiencing a growing demand for soybean meal to feed livestock including the hog industry north of the border.
"They grow over four million hogs on an annual basis and they all eat soybean meal," Egan said.
"It will be the closest soybean processing facility to the north or to the Canadian hog industry. On the oil side, what's driving a lot of the soybean crush facilities is the renewable diesel industry. That really is by far the largest use of any new soybean oil coming into the marketplace. It also can be used in the biodiesel industry on the Minnesota side."
The state of Minnesota currently has a 20% biodiesel mandate for six months out of a year, dropping down to 5% during cold months.
Read more on DTN:
"Soaring Soy Crush Spawns Opposition and Benefits," https://www.dtnpf.com/…
Todd Neeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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