Western state ethanol production is expanding and changing the focus of agriculture in California and Arizona. With 100 plus ethanol plants in operation in the United States, most are in the nation's Midwest.

CALIFORNIA: Two ethanol plants are in production.

Altra Inc.: California-based Altra Inc. is operating a 27 million gallon per year ethanol plant in Goshen, Calif. Altra purchased the plant from Phoenix Bio-Industries, LLC on July 5, 2006. Altra plans to expand production to 35 million gallons. The company's goal is to acquire 500 million gallons of bio-fuel production through the purchase of existing assets across the nation.

Pacific Energy: Pacific Energy opened its first ethanol plant in October 2006 in Madera, Calif., producing 35 million gallons per year. Pacific Energy has a plant under construction in Boardman, Ore. According to Pacific, the goal is to bring five ethanol plants in production totaling 220 million gallons per year by mid-2008, and a total of 420 million gallons in production by 2010. Pacific's wholly owned subsidiary, Kinergy Marketing, LLC, is the largest West Coast-based marketer of ethanol.

On the drawing board:

  • Ethanol West, LLC and Western Milling, LLC plan to build ethanol plants in Keyes, Calif., (near Turlock) and in Famoso, Calif. (near Delano). Each plant would produce 55 million gallons annually with the ability to double production within a year. The plants are expected to be on line in 2007.

ARIZONA: Two plants are under construction.

  • Pinal Energy LLC: Pinal Energy will open its 55 million gallon, $63 million ethanol plant in May 2006 in Maricopa, Ariz. The plant will use 18 million bushels of feed grains annually. Initially, corn railed in from the Midwest will fuel the plant. Then Pinal Energy hopes to persuade Arizona farmers to grow corn and milo for the plant.

    Besides the distiller's grain and ethanol bi-products, the plant will yield carbon dioxide to be sold as a liquid in the Phoenix and Tucson markets, and as a dried product for the hydroponics' industry.

  • XL Dairy Group, Inc: Located just off Interstate 10 near Vicksburg, Ariz., the XL Dairy Group Inc. is currently building a bio refinery. The facility will feature three components: dairy, waste energy and bio refinery.

Stage one of the dairy is completed with the ability to expand to milk 7,500 cows. The plant's waste energy section will create enough energy primarily through methane digestion augmented by gasification to power the dairy and the bio refinery. The third sector, the bio refinery, will produce ethanol, biodiesel and carbon dioxide.

On the drawing board:

  • Agrinext Ethanol AZ, LLC plans to build a bio ethanol plant near Tacna, Ariz., next to the proposed Arizona Clean Fuels Yuma, LLC oil refinery.

  • Ethanol West, LLC and Western Milling, LLC plan to break ground on a plant in Gila Bend, Ariz., in 2007.