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Ethanol plant construction comes to end

January 08 2009
The Fargo Forum


CASSELTON, N.D. - Construction has wrapped up and ethanol is about to flow from the Tharaldson ethanol plant west of Casselton.

Vice President Russ Newman says it's hoped the plant will put out 120 million gallons of ethanol every year. Most of it will be moved by rail.

Fifty full-time employees are on the payroll. Most of the corn for the plant will come from within 40 miles of Casselton.

Fargo businessman Gary Tharaldson led the group that got the plant started.
Impact to last after building done

May 24, 2008
The Fargo Forum


CASSELTON, N.D. - Local businesses don't expect the economic upturn brought by construction of the $225 million Tharaldson Ethanol plant to stop once the plant is finished in December.

Officials expect 12 to 15 of the plant's 50 full-time employees to move into town.

Annual payroll will be $2.5 million to $3 million, so the average salary will be in the $50,000 range, said Russ Newman, Tharaldson Ethanol vice president of development.

"It's very significant," said Bernie Sinner, Casselton Business Association president. "We would have to look long and hard to find individual instances that had that kind of impact."

"It's got to be good for the area," said Casselton Mayor Ed McConnell. "It's a lot of jobs."

Truck drivers hauling the corn used to make ethanol will stop in town for gas and food.

Sightseers will continue to drive by to view the plant, funded and built by the Gary Tharaldson family.

"Agriculture is the backbone of this area, and people are fascinated to see it," said Greg Kempel, Maple River Winery owner and chairman of the Casselton Regional Tourism Committee.

The plant's impact on local farms will be significant.

Almost all of the 38 million bushels of corn the plant will use each year will come from farmers in a 50-mile radius of Casselton, Newman said.

In 2007, Cass County farmers harvested 250,000 acres, or nearly 27.6 million bushels, of corn - about 10 percent of the corn harvested in the entire state, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Brothers Dean and David Giermann farm five miles from the plant.

They're planting an additional 200 acres of corn this year, bringing the total to 700 acres, Dean Giermann said.

"It helps competition in the area with an ethanol plant here and another one in Hankinson (N.D.)," Giermann said. "It's good for the whole area, not just agriculture. It's good for the community and probably the whole county."

But increased costs for fertilizer, seed and fuel have made it less lucrative than it could have been, he said.

Wesley Belter, a state representative and farmer near Leonard, 18 miles south of Casselton, is planting 3,000 acres of corn this year - three times as much as usual.

He built additional grain storage and installed a dryer system.

Red River Valley and Western Railroad track will connect the plant to all of the major elevators in southeastern North Dakota, Newman said.

"It (the ethanol plant) certainly should have a positive impact from the standpoint of hopefully raising our basis here, which will help our markets as far as price," Belter said.

Basis is the difference between local cash prices and the future price on the Chicago Board of Trade. Basis is determined by many things, including local demand.

"The impact should be quite huge because you've got the impact on the farm economy, all the additional corn acres that will be planted," Newman said. "That trickles down to the implement dealers and the car dealers, and bankers, and pretty much everybody who deals with the farming community."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526
The Associated Press

Contributed to this report

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526
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