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Keyes ethanol plant to reopen soon
Keyes ethanol plant pic1
The Keyes ethanol plant is expected to be up and running again in early 2011, after AE Biofuels closed a financing agreement for the repair and restart of the 55 million gallon per year ethanol plant. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

Keyes will soon be contributing to California’s renewable energy industry once again, as AE Biofuels, Inc. announced it plans to reopen the ethanol plant located off of Highway 99.

On Wednesday, AE Biofuels announced they closed a $4.5 million financing agreement with Third Eye Capital Corporation.  The funds will be used for the repair, restart and operation of the existing 55 million gallon per year ethanol plant located in Keyes.

“Securing this funding is an important milestone for AE Biofuels as we expand local biofuels production in one of the largest ethanol markets in the world,” said Eric McAfee, chairman and CEO of AE Biofuels, Inc. 

The original $130 million construction and commissioning of the plant was completed in November 2008 by Cilion, Inc. In early 2009 the plant was closed due to technical and market issues.  AE Biofuels took possession of the facility under a project agreement with Cilion in March 2010, and has signed a facility lease for up to three years.

AE Biofuels plans to be fully operational by the first quarter of 2011. They expect to hire 35 to 45 full-time employees.

“Our goal is to definitely hire people locally,” said Andy Foster of AE Biofuels.

The open positions will include those in management, laboratory workers and hourly plant operators. Job descriptions will be posted on AE Biofuels’ Web site on Monday.

The Keyes plant will also be participating in a state incentive program designed to provide price assurance for low-carbon intensity California ethanol producers.   According to AE Biofuels, the plant will be a leader in environmentally responsible ethanol production with a 2.6:1 positive energy balance and near zero water discharge. In addition, the plant’s natural gas and steam powered turbine cogeneration unit will generate nearly all of the operating electric needs of the plant (4.3 megawatts), thus eliminating dependence on the state’s electrical grid.

AE Biofuels, Inc. is a global company based in Cupertino, Calif. The company is commercializing its patent-pending next-generation cellulosic ethanol technology that enables the production of biofuels from both non-food and traditional feedstocks. Its wholly-owned Universal Biofuels subsidiary built and operates a 50 million gallon per year biodiesel production facility on the east coast of India.

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.