Minnesota's second-largest ethanol plant is reopening after a 15-month shutdown.
The plant in Fairmont, Minn., 130 miles southwest of the Twin Cities, has hired workers and about half the plant will be operating next week, said Todd Becker, CEO of Green Plains Renewable Energy, the plant's new owner.
"We should be cranking ethanol out of there by the first of the year," Becker said in an interview with the Star Tribune Thursday.
After a round of hiring this month, the company said it has 50 employees at the Fairmont plant and expects the number to rise to 58 people. About half are rehires of former plant workers, the company said.
The plant, with annual capacity of 113 million gallons, is rivaled in Minnesota only by Valero's 120 million-gallon-per year plant located five miles away in Welcome, Minn.
The Fairmont plant, formerly owned by BioFuel Energy Corp., was acquired in November in two-plant deal by Omaha-based Green Plains, the nation's 4th-largest ethanol producer. The other plant is in Wood River, Neb. Green Plains paid a bank $53.5 million for each plant.
Green Plains also owns a plant in Fergus Falls, Minn., and 10 others across the Midwest.
Minnesota has 21 ethanol plants. Another idled plant is in Buffalo Lake, Minn., but its owner also has been working to reopen it.
David Shaffer -- 612-673-7090 -- @ShafferStrib
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