By Chad Friese, General Manager
Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company has completed a very successful 2023, a fourth best in the history of the company. Wait, didn’t we just have one of those 4th best years? The reality is that we did and 2023 will replace our previous 4th best year of 2021. This means that 2023, 2022, and 2021 will all be top 5 years in the history of the company. Thank you staff and Board of Directors!
I always want to be super positive, and think it will happen again next year and it can, but every year is different with different challenges. I have stated in the last couple newsletters that things feel pretty positive for the industry. Support from EPA and governmental policies that focus on carbon and renewables continue to feel supportive of the ethanol industry. But, markets are in a constant evolution and those supportive signals will drive production higher. Growth and expansion of markets can also create supply and demand shifts. With good markets the increased production and investment could create supply that can’t be supported with demand. Demand growth needs to happen on pace with the supportive policies. That means flex fuel and flex hybrid vehicles, as well as national blends higher than E10 are needed.
CVEC has had a focus on growth, and for 2023 that growth came in the form of an opportunity to purchase a greater share of assets that we are already very comfortable with and had shown a great history of performance. Chairman Thompson discusses that more in his article. The management team here at CVEC have spent a lot of time, thought and discussion on positioning CVEC to continue to grow and compete in a future market focused on carbon measures and efficiency. In 2023 a couple of those items were growth and efficiency in corn oil extraction with the addition of a second centrifuge in March of 2023. Another major contributor to this goal in 2023 was the filing and acceptance of a cellulosic conversion of some of the corn fiber in fermentation into ethanol. This cellulosic conversion provides CVEC with additional low carbon ethanol that can meet the carbon requirements to be sold into premium low carbon fuel markets on the west coast. Several other energy focused projects were also completed as we want to continue to lower energy usage per gallon of ethanol produced. There are a lot of technologies that can be invested in to accomplish even lower carbon ethanol. Several potential markets that appear to have a desire for a low carbon ethanol include Ethanol to Jet Fuel- Sustainable Aviation Fuel- as a main example. The decisions we eventually make will hopefully position the future of this production facility to continue to make fourth-best-year type incomes for many more years.
I would like to close with a huge thank you to Chairman Dave Thompson. His leadershipand knowledge will be missed on the CVAC Board. It has truly been a pleasure to work with him over the years. His thoughtfulness, attention to detail and inclusive approach in the board room has been a great asset to the company. Thank You.