NEVADA, Iowa -- It doesn't have a "for sale" sign in front yard, but it might as well have. Dow-DuPont is trying to find a buyer for the 225 million-dollar cellulosic ethanol facility in Nevada, Iowa.
“Well I’m obviously sad and a little disappointed, I kinda wondered how this was going to shake out you’ve got Dow and DuPont coming together and then splitting into three companies and they’re trying to figure out where all the pieces fit” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw.
Shaw says he has to take the merged company's statement on the issue at face value. In it, Dow-DuPont says:
“We are making a strategic shift in how we participate in the cellulosic biofuels market. While we still believe in the future of cellulosic biofuels we have concluded it is in our long-term interest to find a strategic buyer for our technology”.
While they try to find a buyer, Dow-DuPont says they'll keep the lights on at the facility using a skeleton crew, but did not say how many of the 90 or so employees would get to keep their job.
“Luckily we are seeing expansions in other parts of the renewable fuels industry here in Iowa. Some of the traditional plants are going, some of the other plants are adding cellulose…so I hope with the knowledge they have from Du Pont there they can land on their feet” said Shaw.
Cellulosic ethanol is created by refining the fiber in a corn or other plants rather than the starch. Shaw says Dow-DuPont's sale is a little surprising.
“I actually think we’ll see more cellulosic ethanol produced in the next 12 months, by far, than we’ve had history to date; so it’s kind of Ironic that this is happening right when I think we’re on the cusp of taking some big steps forward” said Shaw.
However, Shaw says the uncertainty over the renewable fuel standard over the last few years hasn't helped the industry.
“Going all the way back to 2013 where it was kind of paused for a few years, and even this year’s proposal that was released in July, it has not been finalized yet, but it was a 25% cut. What is the RFS telling us here? It hasn’t been a strong signal for investors” he said.
Dow-DuPont says they will continue to be a player in the larger bio fuel industry as a whole; Dow-DuPont says they will be giving assistance to every employee affected by the decision.