Farmer-owned corn co-op credits competitive electric rates, technology and service as keys to growing business
Kentucky farmers produced the largest corn crop in the commonwealth’s history last year, 245 million bushels, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Thanks to businesses like Commonwealth Agri-Energy, LLC, Hopkinsville, that corn can be put to a variety of uses, a positive factor both in determining the “basis price” farmers are paid for each bushel and in expanding the corn market.
Grinding about 15 million bushels of corn annually, the plant produces:
• 45 million gallons of ethanol, supplying about one-third of the region’s needs.
• 129,000 tons of distillers dried grains. The protein-rich corn feed is mostly sold to local poultry producers.
• 110,000 tons of carbon dioxide sold to an adjacent company that produces dry ice and carbonation for beverages.
• 7,000 tons of animal feed grade distillers corn oil.
Commonwealth Agri-Energy was built in 2004 by Hopkinsville Elevator, a cooperative serving about 3,500 producer members from 64 counties.
“Not only do you get a better basis because you’ve got a better market and that helps with the freight, our farmer-owners who own the plant also get the profits on what we make,” says Mick Henderson, general manager.
Henderson says Commonwealth Agri-Energy’s success is tied to reliable service and low electric rates provided by Pennyrile Electric and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).
“Pennyrile Electric values Commonwealth Agri-Energy and their commitment to our local agriculture community,” says Alan Gates, the co-op’s president and CEO. “When it comes to energy consumption in the Pennyrile Electric service area, Commonwealth Agri-Energy is a top five member. It is our goal to continue to provide them with reliable power at the best possible rate.”
Pennyrile Electric “was instrumental in getting us competitive power and technology to locate here and to thrive here,” Henderson says. “That’s why there is a manufacturing base in this region. For electric-intensive manufacturing, Pennyrile Electric and TVA are good partner.