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Heron Lake BioEnergy to be acquired by Guardian

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HERON LAKE - Guardian Energy Heron Lake LLC has announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire the ethanol production assets from Heron Lake BioEnergy LLC, according to a press release issued Wednesday afternoon.

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The transaction, which also includes a 73 percent ownership interest in subsidiary Agrinatural Gas LLC -- the pipeline company formed to construct, own and operate a natural gas pipeline that provides natural gas to Heron Lake BioEnergy's ethanol production facility through a connection with the natural gas pipeline facilities of Northern Border Pipeline Company in Cottonwood County -- is expected to close on or before March 1, pending regulatory and member approval.

Purchasing 21 million bushels of locally grown corn, the Heron Lake natural gas fired ethanol plant produces nearly 60 million gallons of ethanol and 177,000 tons of distillers dried grains (DDGS) annually. The ethanol plant began producing ethanol in October 2007 and has 35 full-time employees.

Guardian Energy Heron Lake LLC is the wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian Energy Heron Lake Holdings LLC, which is owned by four Midwest ethanol plants: Al-Corn Clean Fuel Cooperative (Claremont); Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (Benson); Heartland Corn Products (Winthrop); and KAAPA Ethanol LLC (Minden, Neb).

"This ownership group has a history of operating successful ethanol plants both individually and cooperatively," Guardian Lakes CEO Don Gales said.

The purchase of the facility is viewed as a further commitment to the ethanol industry by the Guardian Energy family.

"We look forward to developing long-lasting relationships with area producers and the surrounding communities," Gales added.

Upon the purchase closing, Guardian Energy Heron Lake plans to honor all existing corn contracts associated with the Heron Lake facility. Guardian Energy Heron Lake plans to hold producer meetings to discuss grain procurement within 30 to 45 days of the closing date.

Bob Ferguson, Heron Lake BioEnergy LLC Chief Executive Officer, said the acquisition of Heron Lake BioEnergy LLC by the Guardian Group will provide local producers with an ongoing option to market their corn through a group of plants that have grown through the early days of ethanol to become Guardian Energy Heron Lake Holdings LLC.

"The ability to continue relations with a company which has its emphasis on ethanol and DDGS production is positive to the local area and economy," Ferguson said. "We welcome Guardian Energy Heron Lake to the Heron Lake area, and wish them success as they move forward in the biofuels industry."

Guardian Energy LLC was formed in September 2009 by six farmer-owned ethanol plants located in Little Falls, Benson, Claremont and Winthrop, as well as Mason City, Iowa, and Minden, Neb., to purchase the 120 MGY ethanol production facility in Janesville.

Guardian plants presently have production capacity of 180 millions of gallons of ethanol and 500,000 tons of distillers annually. All Guardian owners are members of Renewable Products Marketing Group (RPMG), based in Shakopee and a leader in ethanol and dried distillers grains marketing.

Heron Lake BioEnergy LLC will file with the SEC a proxy statement containing information about the transaction with Guardian Energy Heron Lake LLC and its plan of dissolution. Members and unit holders may obtain a copy of the proxy statement when it becomes available, as well as other documents filed by HLBE with the SEC, by visiting HLBE's website at www.heronlakebioenergy.com.

Copies of the proxy statement, when it becomes available, and HLBE's other filings with the SEC may also be obtained from HLBE by writing to the Corporate Secretary, Heron Lake BioEnergy, LLC, 91246 390th Ave., Heron Lake 56137, or by calling the corporate secretary at (507) 793-0077.

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