Mead plant received COVID funds amid environmental concerns, delinquent taxes |
“DED did due diligence on these items, but cannot address items beyond the scope of this grant program,” the department said.
The increasing number of site visits and violations being documented by the Department of Environment and Energy were not considered.
According to the Department of Economic Development, a total of $14 million in Grow Nebraska funds were awarded to 23 ethanol plants across the state.
The AltEn plant near Mead, which reported employing more than 60 people, received the least amount of stabilization dollars, according to a database maintained by the state.
Ethanol producers such as Archer-Daniels-Midland in Columbus and KAAPA Ethanol in Ravenna received $1.8 million and $1.7 million, respectively, while Midwest Renewable Energy LLC in Sutherland received $235,000.
On its application for Ethanol Stabilization Program funds, obtained by the Journal Star through a public-records request, AltEn said operating costs had increased and fuel prices had dropped because of the pandemic.
“Quarantining employees was very problematic, as we don’t have extra staff to cover extended unplanned employee absences,” general manager Scott Tingelhoff wrote. “The decrease in fuel-grade ethanol prices was problematic, as we were operating at a loss just to stay open and to keep our employees working.”