May 20, 2012

Iowa tax credit approved late by legislature will help Mason City ethanol plant

A $12-million tax credit for a north central Iowa ethanol plant is almost secured, thanks to provisions in one of the last bills to clear the 2012 Iowa legislature this past week. The so-called “standings” bill is a sort of “catch-all” that covers many topics.

Lawmakers included a fix for the Golden Grain Ethanol plant in Mason City in the bill. Legislators approved tax breaks for several renewable energy companies last year, but officials in the state agency that handles the money found some mistakes in the way the law was written — putting the tax credit for the Mason City ethanol plant in limbo.

Senator Merlin Bartz, a Republican from Grafton, was part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers who worked to fix the problem. “I know that the Iowa Utilities Board has their application in cue,” Bartz says, “and it is contingent on the clean-up language being signed into law by the governor.”

Senator Amanda Ragan, a Democrat from Mason City, says the tax credit will be an “incredible” boost for the plant. “It’s locally owned, so that’s one of the even more important factors in it,” she says. The Golden Grain ethanol plant in Mason City has more than 800 owners, the majority of whom are north central Iowa farmers.

Ragan says this state tax break will help the operation at a time when federal tax breaks for the ethanol industry are in doubt. Bartz agrees. “I think it will certainly help the bottom line of that particular ethanol facility because of the fact that their intent is to make that ethanol plant more efficient by somehow re-using some of the heat that’s generated,” Bartz says.

The plant began making ethanol in December of 2004. Last year about 100-million gallons of ethanol were produced at the facility.


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