In response to lowered demand, the Ringneck Energy ethanol plant has lowered its output compared to its production levels of this past winter.

“We are not shut down at this time,” said CEO Walt Wendland. “The ethanol industry, and fuel industry in general, is definitely taking a hit during this pandemic.”

“In response to that downturn in economics,” Wendland continued, “we have pulled back production to a level that maintains the demand for fuel ethanol and feed without causing an overabundance of production. In addition to that, we are working with other companies that are using ethanol to make hand sanitizer.”

Wendland says that by making the ethanol used in the hand sanitizer, the plant helps with the pandemic and can stay in production “during a time that many ethanol plants are looking at shutting down” due to the economic climate. Wendland also lauds the work CFO Danci Baker has done addressing hand sanitizer compliance issues.

In addition to lowering the amount of ethanol produced, Ringneck has made other operational changes to comply with Governor Noem’s COVID-19 mandates such as closing the office to the public and changing how paperwork with truck drivers is handled. No employees have been furloughed, and the plant continues to operate 24-7, just at a reduced rate, because demand for ethanol has decreased.

“We have rearranged work schedules so shifts and departments have significantly reduced their interaction with each other,” said Wendland explaining that within each shift the employees do their best to social distance “so if one group is impacted, we can continue to operate with a reduced number. We have also cross trained employees to be able to work in other departments if needed.”