Following is the transcript of my Q&A with Tom Koehler, Vice President of Government Affairs and Communications for Pacific Ethanol (Nasdaq: PEIX). Mr. Koehler was gracious enough to reply to my email and answer some of the questions.
Though I would prefer my readers to judge the responses to my questions, I would like to say I am not happy with the answers. The responses are very generic and not detailed at all. However, I’ll let you be the judge of that. Also, I would like to say that I appreciate the response from Pacific Ethanol, since most companies don’t even bother responding to investors' questions.
Questions about future construction contracts, Cellulosic technology related plants, California Alternative Energy initiative and future plants locations were not answered.
1. Himanshu Pandya: Pacific Ethanol has used a unique approach of building plants in California, which is away from the corn producing states in the Midwest. Why did you do that? Are we going to see more companies try that approach?
Tom Koehler: Renewable fuels make sense on a world wide basis – California is no exemption.
2. HP: Can you please update us on the Madera plant? Are we going to see updated pictures on your website soon? Is the plant on schedule for fourth quarter 2006? Can you provide us a date?
TK: Updated pictures are on web. Our plan is to begin production in the 4th Q.
3. HP: I talked about the Insider selling on my blog which was later mentioned in Wall Street Journal as well. Would you like to comment on that? Is all the negative publicity that came with it justifiable?
TK: Our founding core team has always been in this business to build the future and promote renewable fuels. Pacific Ethanol is in a leadership position in the industry and it is our focus to continue and expand.
4. HP: Can you provide us the reasoning behind the private placement that you did recently?
TK: Expansion capital
5. HP: Is it possible to convert a Corn plant to us cellulosic technology to produce ethanol? Is it cheap and easy to convert or is costly to convert?
TK: Yes its possible
6. HP: Do you think in the near future we will see Ethanol plants in every state rather than just Midwest and use your company’s approach to ship raw materials from Midwest?
TK: I hope that in the future there is an ethanol plant in every state using the most economical feedstocks.
7. HP: How do you envision Ethanol’s use in the near future? Will the United States ever come close to what Brazil has done?
TK: It is possible with coherent and sustained policy.
8. HP: Do you see big oil getting into the Ethanol business as well?
TK: They already are.
9. HP: What can my readers do to promote the use of Ethanol?
TK: Everytime folks fill up ask if there is ethanol blended in the gasoline at any level and if there is not find out where they can get it and go there to fill up.