Saturday, January 31, 2009

Olsen Family Business--Ethanol--in Trouble

Look at this Wiggy post from not-so-far back.

Let's add Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) to the ethanol drinking list

...Luther Olsen is a part-owner of a number of large agricultural businesses in Wisconsin including Berlin Feed, Inc., Olsen Leasing, LLC, and Olsen's Mill, Inc., according to his Statement of Economic Interests filed with the State of Wisconsin Ethics Board in 2005 for the year 2004.

Well, maybe that wasn't such a good idea.

Renew Energy LLC, operator of a year-old ethanol plant in Jefferson, sought protection from creditors in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Friday.

The company listed debts of $100 million to $500 million and assets in the same range.
The largest unsecured creditor listed is Olsen's Mill Inc., which is owed $20 million, according to the filing.

Olsen's has ties to Renew Energy. Paul Olsen, whom Renew identified as its chairman when it broke ground on the ethanol plant in October 2006, is an officer with Olsen's Mill, which sells farm supplies and markets and stores grain from 11 Wisconsin locations.

...Meanwhile, in a separate action, a bank is trying to force Olsen's Mill Inc. into receivership, a state court proceeding similar to bankruptcy.

That case was filed Wednesday by BNP Paribas in Green Lake County

Back a hundred years or so, Olsen's Power Equipment had a major retail facility in Waukesha, on old Hy. 164. They were damn good at doing their jobs, too.

Let's hope they pull through this--but let's also hope that force-feeding ethanol to motorists is not part of the solution.


Headless Blogger said...

D29 - You know this is about my favorite subject in the world.

The interesting thing about Luther's proposed ethanol mandate is that, if implemented, it may have put his brother's business in even worse shape. The way commodity prices have shaken out, I think ethanol cannot be sold at a profit. That law could have forced him to sell more of the stuff for an even bigger loss.

Dad29 said...

Yup. Eth's been a moneyloser for about 8-10 months.

However, you can expect the Fed subsidy-rate to go up soon (if it's not already in the Porkulus bill)--meaning that we'll be providing a blood transfusion soon.

Headless Blogger said...

Aha, the law of unintended consequences is compounded by Obama's economic ignorance.

We've established the pricing arbitrage between corn, oil and ethanol. The market will adjust to the subsidy by jacking up the price of corn and leave the ethanol makers without a profit. It will be their own bidding for corn that does it.

Corn price controls will follow.

Display Name said...

And there's the new and interesting clouds of stench that float past the homes across the road from the Jefferson plant.

Anonymous said...

Financial Details of Renew Energy's Bankruptcy Case Unveiled Wisconsin Ag Connection - 02/02/2009 The very first Wisconsin ethanol plant to file for bankruptcy protection owes its creditors between $100 to $500 million. That's according to documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Friday by Renew Energy LLC of Jefferson. Last week, Renew Board Chairman Paul Olsen told Wisconsin Ag Connection that its bank is refusing to renew loan agreements that were used to finance the ethanol plant. He identified Banker's Bank of Madison as the institution that was "unwilling to extend the note." Renew Energy has over 150 million in liabilities as of the bankruptcy filing according to court documents.

In a related matter, BNP Paribas filed a case last Wednesday in Green Lake County Circuit Court to force Olsen's Mill Inc. into receivership. A state court proceeding similar to bankruptcy. Paul Olsen is one of the investors of the Renew Energy plant and controls the factory's corn purchasing contracts. Paul Olsen is also one of the officers of Olsen's Mill along with his brother Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon). Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (WCCA) BNP Paribas vs. Olsen's Mill Inc.

Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (WCCA) BNP Paribas vs. Olsen's Mill Inc. Green Lake County Case Number 2009CV000025 Filing Date: 01-28-2009 Case Type: Civil Case Status: Open Class Code Description Responsible Official Other-Debt Action McMonigal, W. M. Parties Party Type Party Name Party Status Plaintiff BNP Paribas Defendant Olsen's Mill Inc. Future Court Activity Date Time Location Description Type 2 Court Official 02-12-2009 02:15 pm Crthse 492 Hill St Rm #305 Green Lake, WI 54941 Motion hearing Court McMonigal, W. M. Party Details BNP Paribas - Plaintiff 787 Seventh Ave, as agent, New York, NY 10019 01-28-2009 Party Attorney(s) Attorney Name GAL Entered Nixon, Timothy F No 01-28-2009 Olsen's Mill Inc. - Defendant W2018 St Rd 21, Berlin, WI 54923 01-28-2009

According to the motorist advocacy group AAA, which is a lot more respectable than one year old ethanol plants that go bankrupt with cry me a river excuses...the nationwide average price of regular unleaded gas was $3.909 a gallon on July 31st, 2008. The price of E85 was $3.155 a gallon on average on July 31st, 2008"Ethanol is less efficient than gasoline. As a result, a car running on E85 would pay the equivalent of $4.151 per gallon on July 31st, 2008 to get the same mileage as gas," the AAA survey stated. Do you really think we believe your ethanol lies? Please pass this to your friends so that they know the true facts (NOT LIES) that if you put e-10, e-20 or e-85 ethanol in your vehicle ... you will pay more not less! The public should know the facts and not the lies.

The distance driven by a properly tuned car is directly proportional to the calorific value of the car’s fuel. Ethanol has 63 percent of the calorific value of gasoline. What does that mean? In terms of driving distance, one gallon of E85 is equivalent to 0.701 gallons of unleaded gasoline. If ordinary gasoline sells for $3.09/gallon and E85 at $2.49/gallon, as shown in the above photograph, the customer is misled into thinking ethanol is a good deal. However, the energy-equivalent price of 1 gallon of E85 is $2.49/0.701=$3.55. So, in fact, the buyer of E85 gasoline subsidizes the ethanol seller with $3.55 - $3.09 = $0.46 per gallon of E85. By using 20 gallons of E85 per week, a driver will spend an additional $500 per year.

There are yet more subsidies. As long as agribusiness receives tens of billions of dollars each year in crop-price and environmental subsidies, it obtains a significant gift from the taxpayers: industrial raw materials (e.g., corn grain) at rock-bottom prices, which can be processed into, say, ethanol at a significant profit. This profit is further enhanced by a subsidy of 48cents per gallon of ethanol – also courtesy of the taxpayers – via the Federal Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC). But it does not end there. States and local communities lavish further subsidies on ethanol producers.

The ethanol mandates that have been foisted on American taxpayers are not just fiscal insanity, they are immoral. Congress has created a system of subsidies and mandates that requires the U.S. to burn food to make motor fuel, at a time when there is a global shortage of food and no global shortage of motor fuel. Ethanol refineries also use huge amounts of water. An average dry-mill plant needs about 750,000 gallons of processing water per day. Some of this water is recycled, but the rest must be obtained from a local water supply. Clean drinking water is becoming scarce in much of the Midwest, especially across its western area. An average ethanol refinery emits dozens of dangerous chemicals into the air, such as toluene, ethylbenzene, acetone, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein, benzene, styrene, and furfural.

Air Quality Perhaps the most stunning aspect of the ethanol insanity is that the E.P.A., charged with protecting the environment in the U.S., has stated clearly on at least two occasions that increasing the amount of ethanol in America’s gasoline supply will hurt air quality, because it will lead to major increases in the release of two of the worst air pollutants: volatile organic compounds V.O.C.s and nitrogen oxides NOx. In a presentation to environmental groups on the effects of the ethanol mandates in October 2006, E.P.A. officials were clear that the fuel additive was going to harm air quality. The 48page PowerPoint presentation includes a slide titled “Emissions Impact of EtOH [Ethanol] Varies Widely.” The first item on the slide is for NOx. Immediately below the NOx heading is this bullet point: “Relatively straightforward: more ethanol, more NOx.”

In May 2007, the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University released a report saying the ethanol mandates have increased the food bill for every American by about $47 per year due to grain price increases for corn, soybeans, wheat, and others. The Iowa State researchers concluded that American consumers face a “total cost of ethanol of about $14 billion.” And that figure does not include the cost of federal subsidies to corn growers or the $0.51 per gallon tax credit to ethanol producers. • In September 2007, Corinne Alexander and Chris Hurt, agricultural economists at Purdue University, found that “about twothirds of the increase” in food price increases from 2005 to 2007 was “related to biofuels.” The report also says, “Based on expected 2007 farm level crop prices, that additional food cost is estimated to be $22 billion for U.S. consumers compared to farm prices for the crops produced in 2005.

Anonymous said...

P.O. Box 7857 Madison, WI 53707
June 23, 2008

For Immediate Release For More Information Contact: Bill Cosh 608/266-1221


MADISON – The state has settled a lawsuit against Utica Energy, LLC (co-owned by Paul Olsen who is also one of the officers of Olsen's Mill and now bankrupt Renew Energy of Jefferson, Wisconsin along with his brother Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon)) for violations of the state’s air and water pollution control laws at Utica’s Winnebago County ethanol plant. The Department of Justice filed and settled the case following an investigation by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

According to the complaint, filed at the request of the DNR, the defendant violated a number of
requirements in its air pollution control permit, including a requirement that it load ethanol only into “dedicated” tankers to prevent air contaminant emissions, and another permit requirement
that it route all emissions from its wet grain dryer through air pollutant control equipment
whenever the process is in operation.

The complaint also alleges that:
• Utica’s discharges to an unnamed tributary to Sawyer Creek violated the effluent limits in its wastewater discharge permits on a number of occasions
• Utica failed to conduct required wastewater discharge monitoring and reporting
• Utica landspread wet corn mash on an unapproved site
• Utica used treatment additives for which it did not obtain DNR approval, and
• Utica discharged polluted corn mash seepage into a drainage ditch that flows into an unnamed tributary to Sawyer Creek.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Utica will pay penalties, fees, and costs totaling
$75,000 for the violations.

The settlement was approved by Winnebago County Circuit Court Judge Bruce K. Schmidt.
Assistant Attorney General Shari Eggleson represented the state.

And this was not even the first time!!

Utica Energy Ordered to Pay $76,000 for Air Pollution Violations
November 30, 2005

For More Information Contact: Kelly Kennedy 608/266-7876

MADISON - Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager announced today that the Department of Justice has won $76,000 in penalties from Utica Energy, LLC of Oshkosh (formerly known as Algoma Energy,) (co-owned by Paul Olsen who is also one of the officers of Olsen's Mill and now bankrupt Renew Energy of Jefferson, Wisconsin along with his brother Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon)) for air pollution violations.
The Winnebago County case went to trial in April and a hearing on penalties was held on November 11, 2005. In a decision and order, the court found Utica Energy liable on four of the counts charged, and imposed penalties totaling $76,000 for the violations, which were corrected before trial.

According to the complaint, which was filed at the request of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Utica Energy commenced construction in March 2002, before the necessary permits were issued. The complaint asserted that Utica Energy failed to equip its storage tanks with emissions control equipment and loaded trucks without the required air pollution controls. Air pollutants emitted at Utica’s plant include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and benzene, a hazardous air pollutant. “Utica Energy repeatedly constructed and operated facilities before the required permits and emissions control equipment were in place, resulting in excessive emissions of air pollutants,” Lautenschlager said. “While the necessary air pollution control equipment has since been installed, the court agreed that penalties are warranted for Utica Energy’s failure to comply with the permitting process.”

Assistant Attorney General Shari Eggleson prosecuted the case for the State.

Or even the second time!!


State Lawsuit Alleges Company Failed to Obtain Necessary Permits
July 30, 2008
MADISON — A temporary injunction was issued earlier this week prohibiting further construction activities by Olsen Brothers Enterprises, LLP (co-owned by Paul Olsen who is also one of the officers of Olsen's Mill and now bankrupt Renew Energy of Jefferson, Wisconsin along with his brother Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon)) at a site in the Town of Belmont in Lafayette County, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today. The order was issued at the request of the Department of Justice and Lafayette County, which had earlier issued a stop work order because of violations of county zoning ordinances.

According to the Complaint filed by the State, the construction activities violate laws enacted to control erosion and run-off from construction sites. The Complaint alleges that Olsen Brothers had been asked to halt construction until the required storm water management permit had been obtained and adequate erosion control measures had been implemented, but the defendant refused to halt construction. Lafayette County Circuit Court Judge William D. Johnston issued the injunction, and set the matter for a hearing on whether to continue the injunction on August 8, 2008.

Assistant Attorney General Shari Eggleson is prosecuting the case, which was referred to the Department of Justice by the Department of Natural Resources.

Anonymous said...

Ethanol fallout hammers Olsen's Mill
By Jeff Bollier • of the Northwestern • February 13, 2009

The bankruptcy of an ethanol plant in Jefferson could lead to the liquidation of Olsen's Mill Inc. a family-owned grain and farm supply business that provided corn to the plant.

As a result of a court agreement reached Wednesday, a Green Lake County Circuit Court judge appointed a receiver to manage Olsen's Mill assets, and Paul Olsen resigned as president of Olsen's Mill and relinquished all management authority over the company.

Olsen, in addition to being president of Olsen's Mill, is president of Renew Energy LLC, the bankrupt plant in Jefferson, and also of Utica Energy LLC, an ethanol plant in the town of Utica.

BNP Paribas, a large European bank, filed a civil suit in Green Lake County in January that claims Olsen's Mill is insolvent and cannot pay back the $58.4 million the company borrowed from the bank in August 2007.

The bank's investigation indicated Olsen's Mill "misrepresented" its assets, violated several terms of the credit agreement and concealed $21 million Renew Energy owed the mill for the purchase of corn and other products, the complaint.

Paul Swanson, the Oshkosh attorney representing Olsen's Mill, said Renew's bankruptcy put millions of dollars it owed to Olsen's Mill in jeopardy and led to Olsen's Mill landing in receivership. Renew Energy filed for Chapter 11 protection from bankruptcy in late January.

Swanson said the business relationship between Olsen's Mill and Renew Energy became strained when gas prices dropped, corn prices remained relatively high and the cost to produce a gallon of ethanol rose.

Those problems are playing out across the industry, with plants either closing or seeking bankruptcy protection.

"Corn prices hit eight or nine dollars on the futures market. Oil prices rose to $140-a-barrel and then crashed. Now, you've got the real turmoil on the market," Swanson said.

In the complaint, the bank claims Olsen's Mill:

E Listed $4.3 million in un-cashed checks from Renew Energy as cash on-hand. The bank claims the checks weren't cashed because the company knew they would bounce.

E Listed more than 850,000 bushels of grain as inventory on Aug. 31 when the grain in question had already been shipped to Renew Energy.

E Included $2.4 million of equipment, $1 million of industrial solvents and $792,000 of fertilizer as "feed grains."

In addition, BNP's complaint said the bank did further investigation that revealed Olsen's sold corn to Renew Energy at less than market prices from December 2007 to December 2008, a $9.5 million benefit for Renew Energy, and continued to sell grain to Renew Energy even after Olsen's Mill knew the company could not pay its bills.

Messages left for BNP Paribas' Green Bay-based attorney were not returned as of press time. Paul Olsen has not returned phone messages left with him over the past week.

Swanson said it is a priority to keep the company in business in order to continue serving farmers who sell their grain to Olsen's Mill and grain buyers, including ethanol plants. Olsen's Mill is a third-generation family-owned grain marketing and agricultural supply business has 10 locations, including the town of Algoma, Auroraville and Ripon.

"The goal is to keep Olsen's Mill going, get it to the point where we can reorganize or sell it in order to keep it serving its customers," Swanson said.

Utica Energy LLC will not be affected by either Renew's bankruptcy or Olsen's Mill's receivership status, Swanson said.

— Jeff Bollier: (920) 426-6688 or

Anonymous said...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Oshkosh firm to plead guilty for false samples
The Business Journal of Milwaukee
Olsen's Mill Inc. has agreed to plead guilty to falsifying samples presented to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture for testing, U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic said.
Olsen's Mill operates an Oshkosh elevator and ethanol plant that provides corn and soybeans to producers of corn-refined and starch-based food products. In a plea agreement, the corporation acknowledged that it told the Department of Agriculture that grain samples submitted to the agency were properly gathered when they were not. The firm has agreed to plead guilty to a “felony” charge of submitting false documents to the agency, which is responsible for testing the grain for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The company faces fines of up to $20,000.