PEKIN - A west coast ethanol fuel company will purchase the Illinois Corn Processing plant in Pekin by the close of this month, the company has announced.

The acquisition will make way for expansion of ICP’s diversified line of food- and fuel-based products at the plant that “has a history of consistent profitability ... at better than average industry margins,” said Neil Koehler, the president of Pacific Ethanol Inc., the plant’s new owner, in a news release.

Koehler said in the release that his company, a leading U.S. producer of low-carbon renewable fuels, will purchase ICP for $76 million from its current owners, SEACOR Holdings Inc. and MGPI Processing Inc.

Located at 1301 Front St. and founded in 2009, the Pekin plant employs about 75 people, according to its website. It is adjacent to similar plants already owned by Pacific Ethanol. In an interview with the Pekin Daily Times, Koehler said Pacific Ethanol’s acquiring of the plant “definitely increases opportunities” for plant employee growth in the future, but he did not go into further detail.

The Pekin plant currently produces a little under 80 million gallons of ethanol a year, Koehler said in the interview. Koehler is looking to reach 90 million, the plant’s full operating capacity, in the next one to two years, but that’ll depend partially on market conditions, Koehler said. Depending on conditions, the plant’s ethanol output may go down for a time while the quality of the ethanol goes up, Koehler said.

“The consolidation of the ICP facility with our two Pekin, Illinois, plants integrates the Pekin site into a unique combination of technologies and products with a combined operating capacity of 250 million gallons per year," Koehler said in the release.

For Pacific Ethanol it also, “diversifies fuel ethanol production with high-value beverage and industrial grade alcohol,” the news release stated.

According to SEACOR, a diversified holding company, ICP produces “a wide variety of high quality alcohol used in food, industrial and petro-chemical endmarkets as well as fuel grade ethanol.” That spectrum differentiates ICP from other fuel ethanol plants and positions it as a key supply partner to a broad customer base.” ICP generates about $200 million in revenue a year.

Koehler said in the release that to further enhance the ICP plant’s value, “we expect to improve yields, increase plant capacity utilization and continue to enhhance ICP’s production processes through additional capital investments.” 

Pacific Ethanol owns and operates eight ethanol production facilities, including four in California, Oregon, and Idaho and four in Illinois and Nebraska.

The Pekin plant is “a tremendous location” from a geography and staff point of view, Koehler said. There are a lot of great people working at the plant, Koehler said. He looks forward to doing business in Pekin and being a part of the community.

Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin

Follow Tim Rosenberger on Twitter @PDTTimR.