Throughout 2009 we’ll continue to update our ethanol deathwatch map. After all, let’s face it, this year in terms of capital drying up, is going to be a doozy. This morning, Pacific Ethanol put out an announcement that it will temporarily suspend a 40-million-gallon-per-year ethanol plant in Madera, Calif., that was started up in October 2006.
Pacific Ethanol cited “extended unfavorable market conditions for producing ethanol” as the reason for halting production at the plant. While corn-based ethanol makers are pulling back on production and struggling to keep operations going, the next-generation cellulosic ethanol producers are delaying plant construction plans and moving slower than most had predicted in 2008. In December 2007, Pacific Ethanol also suspended construction plans for a 50-million-gallon-per-year plant near Calipatria, Calif. We added Pacific Ethanol’s Madera plant to our map.