Proposed Grand Forks, North Dakota, soybean crush plant awarded $250,000 from APUC
The Epitome plant is projected to process up to 42 million bushels of soybean annually.
Epitome Energy received a $250,000 grant from the North Dakota Agricultural Products Utilization Commission to use toward construction of the soybean crush plant it plans to build in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
The Epitome plant is projected to process up to 42 million bushels of soybean annually into crude degummed soybean oil, meals and hulls. The plant projects it will boost the basis for soybeans in the area by 20- to 25-cents per bushel.
Dennis Egan, Epitome Energy, founder and CEO, in December 2022, pivoted from a plan to build the $418 million plant in Crookston, Minnesota, instead announcing that he was going to build it in Grand Forks . Egan plans to build the plant on an undeveloped site slightly north of Grand Forks which has access to rail, highways and other necessary infrastructure.
Egan, a former mayor of Red Wing, Minnesota, cited a lengthy process to obtain permits for the plant from the state of Minnesota as the reason he decided to move the plant from Crookston to Grand Forks.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said in December 2022 after learning of Egan’s plans to move the plant out of Minnesota, that it had expected to issue Epitome Energy a permit in February 2023 so construction of the plant could begin in spring 2023. Egan told the Grand Forks Herald he was not aware of that timeline.
During the two and a half years that Egan planned to build Epitome Energy in Crookston, he was made available a $1 million grant and a $35,000 planning grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. He used only a fraction of each.
Egan told Agweek in an email that Epitome Energy appreciates the North Dakota Agricultural Products Utilization Commissions for its support of the plant and recognition of its benefits across the Red River Valley.
Epitome Energy is working with the state of North Dakota to follow its permitting processes, Egan said in the email.
”So far, that process is moving forward, and we appreciate the state’s guidance and clarity about how a project like ours can be environmentally sound and sustainable for years,” the email said.
Egan also is working with the City of Grand Forks on a development agreement and is making “good progress,” he said.
In mid-February Epitome Energy announced it was partnering with Cappello Global LLC , an international investment banking company in Beverly Hills, California, to complete financing for construction of the plant.
In December 2022 Egan told the Grand Forks Herald that it had been challenging for equity to “move forward with any project in Minnesota.”
When asked by an Agweek reporter on March 8, 2023, how much the equity drive in Minnesota had raised, Egan said in the email that the drive was never limited to Minnesota and he believes that the project will benefit not only that state, but also North Dakota and other Upper Midwest states, and that investor enthusiasm has reinforced that belief.
Egan didn’t say specifically how much Epitome Energy’s equity drive has raised since moving to North Dakota, instead he answered that since the move across the Red River, the level of enthusiasm from potential investors continues to grow.
“They recognize how the project will be a long-term success by providing a critical service for soybean growers who lack access to value-added soy processing in the Red River Valley,” Egan said.
Egan declined to answer a question from Agweek that asked whether Cappello Global LLC investors in the Epitome plant would include ones from overseas.
Epitome Energy continues to work with the city of Grand Forks on a development agreement and is making “good progress,” he said.
Epitome hopes to break ground on the plant by the end of summer 2023 and that the plant will be operational by 2025, Egan said.