Ethanol plant CEO’s share struggles amid COVID-19

Ethanol producers are struggling to stay afloat amid impacts from COVID-19.

Mike Jerke, CEO of Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy says they are operating at less than 50% capacity.

“We really haven’t sold a gallon since sometime in early March, so all of this product is going into storage as we are just attempting to get by.”

Pacific Ethanol CEO Neil Koehler is chairman of the Renewable Fuels Association. He says he has seen ups and downs and volatility in the industry, but never a downturn of this magnitude.

Nonetheless, Koehler says he believes the industry still has a bright future because ethanol has such significant value to the economy and the environment, but they need continued support.  

“Not only on some of these short-term programs like the Paycheck Protection Program, but we also need to maintain support through the Renewable Fuel Standard, we need to clarify that there will be no more small refinery exemptions and we need to move to the higher blends. All of this is critical.”

Jerke and Koehler made their comments during a Renewable Fuels Association conference call with reporters Monday. Pacific Ethanol has Midwest plants in Pekin, Illinois and Aurora, Nebraska.

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