Gevo Inc. succumbs to pandemic economy

Gevo Inc., which operates Agri-Energy in Luverne, announced Friday it will cease operations at the biofuel production plant.

     The close was effective Friday and terminates the employment of 27 workers.

     “We will resume production once the economy is up and running again,” said Gevo spokesperson Heather Manuel. “This virus is just detrimental to business.”

     Gevo officials are currently working with lawmakers to have biofuel manufacturers included in upcoming government economy stimulus plans.

     Earlier this month, Gevo officials celebrated the completion of two wind turbines to provide green energy to the production plant located west of Luverne.

     The planned start-up of the turbines is still expected this month.

     The green electrical energy production was expected to lower the plant’s dependence on coal-generated electricity. With the plant closed, the green energy will be sold.

     “As part of the contract, that power will flow to the city of Luverne and Missouri River Energy,” Manuel said.

     A small number of engineers will continue working on the plant’s expansion plans and the move forward with the company’s green energy plans.

     “Gevo will continue engineering efforts for the expansion of isobutanol production, the construction of the commercial renewable hydrocarbon production facility, as well as additional decarbonization projects at the Luverne facility,” Manuel said.

     Terminating local workers allows them to qualify for unemployment income.

     Worldwide, countries are closing businesses and encouraging people to shelter in place in order to slow the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.

     The uncertainty has negatively affected global markets and has lowered demand for biofuels.

     No date has been determined as to when the Agri-Energy plant would resume production.

     “Gevo will monitor developments in the industry and determine when to resume production operations at the Luverne facility as economic conditions become more favorable for production operations,” Manual said.

     Gevo purchased the plant in 2010.

 

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