Granite Falls Energy buys majority interest in Heron Lake BioEnergy

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Granite Falls Energy has purchased a majority interest in a financially struggling southwest Minnesota ethanol company.

Granite Falls will assume management of the Heron Lake BioEnergy plant, which has been financially troubled for more than a year. The match is a good fit, Granite Falls CEO Steve Christensen said.

"It's a similar plant to Granite Falls," Christensen said. "It was built by the same company, Fagen engineering and ICM. And we'll be sharing the management team between the two so I'll also be the CEO and general manager at Heron Lake BioEnergy."

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. A agreement last fall to sell the Heron Lake facility to the Guardian Cos. for $55 million fell through.

Both Granite Falls Energy and the Heron Lake plant produce about 60 million gallons of ethanol annually.

The ethanol industry has struggled over the past year, mainly because the cost of its principle ingredient, corn, surged to record levels.

But the outlook is better now for the industry because it's expected U.S. farmers will harvest large amounts of corn this fall, causing the price of the grain to drop.