Onida ethanol venture plans nearly 50 investor meetings across SD

Farm Forum

Ringneck Energy LLC will kick off a series of meetings with potential investors across South Dakota starting Wednesday, July 29, in Onida, the town where the company plans to build its plant.

The minimum an investor can buy is 10 membership units at $5,000 per unit, or a $50,000 investment.

Developer Walt Wendland said nearly 50 meetings are planned for South Dakota alone.

“We’re also going to hold some meetings in Iowa, North Dakota, Minnesota and Illinois, if we need to,” he said. “We’re committed to the project. We’re going to hold meetings until we have enough to build the plant.”

The company wants to raise about $74.5 million in equity from investors in order to help Ringneck build a plant to produce 70 million gallons of ethanol a year, with the potential to produce 100 million gallons. Total cost of the plant will be an estimated $140 million, Ringneck Energy said in an advertisement for potential investors published in the July 22 issue of the Capital Journal.

Ringneck Energy had an option to buy a parcel of property at the southeast outskirts of Onida, but Sully County’s approval of a request to re-zone the property to allow a conditional use such as an ethanol plant on that site was referred to a public vote. Sully County voters upheld the county decision to re-zone by a margin of about 4 to 1. Ringneck Energy acted immediately afterward to get the property and the necessary conditional use permit.

“We actually bought the property on June 17, the day after the county-wide vote, when we filed for the conditional use permit,” Wendland told the Capital Journal.

Wendland said his wife, Janet Wendland, bought out another investor, Chris Schwarck, who was working with the project early on. Now the husband-and-wife team is pushing the project forward.

Wendland said they are working with a South Dakota company, Bioenergy Capital Consultants of Lake Preston, on the investment campaign. Bioenergy Capital Consultants has helped 21 ethanol plants get started, Wendland said.

Wendland added that when he raised investor support for Golden Grain Energy of Mason City, Iowa, in 2003, it took 68 meetings to raise the money. But he said the result is greater prosperity for rural America.

“I’ve lived it and I’ve seen what it’s done for agriculture. That’s where my heart is in this thing,” Wendland said. “I think I’m officially a South Dakotan now. I’m here all the time. And after we put on 50 meetings, I’ll know the state extremely well.”