Northstar Ethanol Update
Behind the scenes, plans are continuing to move forward for the Northstar ethanol project near Lake Crystal, MN. The Ethanol Plant is being designed and developed by the Broin Company from Sioux Falls, SD. The Broin Company will also manage the new plant once it is in operation. Broin will have a total of 21 ethanol plants in the Upper Midwest, once Northstar Ethanol is completed.

The Broin Company hopes to complete the permitting process for Northstar Ethanol by mid-June and to break-ground for the new ethanol plant by early July. In the past, Broin ethanol plants have been operational approximately 14 months after the initiation of the construction phase, which would mean late summer or early fall of 2005 as a target start-up date for the Northstar plant.

Energy Bill Stalled
The federal energy bill that was almost approved by Congress late last year still hasn’t been passed by the U.S. Senate. The U.S. House passed a new energy bill earlier in 2003. Congress still has not cleared up provisions relative to liability regarding potential damages from the fuel additive MTBE, which has been used an alternative to ethanol for many years. The use of MTBE has now been banned in many states because of potential environmental and human health concerns. The lack of a new federal energy bill not only affects the ethanol industry, but also affects development of soy diesel, wind energy, biomass, and other alternative energy resources in the U.S. Many observers now feel that the discussion on a new energy bill and trying to reach compromise has gotten very political, and that there is not likely to be an energy bill passed until next year, after the presidential election. As you listen to presidential and congressional candidates this summer and fall, listen closely to their stance on ethanol and development of alternative fuels. These are very big issues for the economic and environmental future of the Midwest.

Editors note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.