Pratt Biofuel Investors is wasting no time in renovating their recently purchased ethanol plant in Pratt County.
Work is already underway throughout the ethanol plant that was purchased from Scoular Company in December after a year's worth of negotiations. Scoular has been operating the grain portion of the facility since they purchased the plant in 2011 from Gateway Plant.
All over the ethanol plant, workers are making upgrades and changes in just about every area of the plant, said Jerry Schroeder, PBI plant manager.
The PBI goal is to get the plant up and operating again as soon as they can after renovations are complete.
"We want to get it up and running this year," Schroeder said.
Lots of work is needed to get the plant up to the necessary standards to start producing ethanol again.
"We're doing a lot of little tweaking in just about every area," Schroeder said.
Part of that work includes the installation of two boilers that is already complete. Prior to the PBI purchase, the boilers sat from many months while a new owner was sought.
Since work is taking place all over the facility, Schroeder said it would take from four to five months to complete all the work.
With much to do, the upgrades and changes will cost several million dollars.
Much of the upgrade work is familiar to PBI. Calgren Renewable Fuels has related ownership to PBI.
Calgren owns an ethanol plant in Pixley, Calif. that went through a nine-month renovation similar to the Pratt facility. The same company Lurgi, that built the Pixley facility, also built the Pratt facility. The Pixley facility was completed just a couple of months after the Pratt facility. Much of the equipment is very similar so many of the changes are similar also.
When fully operational, it will take from 35 to 40 to run the ethanol facility. Some of the employees will be brought in from another facility but PBI looking to fill positions with local hires.
"I love local people. My goal is to hire as many local people as possible," Schroeder said.
When the plant is operational, Schroeder wants to use as much milo as possible in the production of ethanol. Milo uses less water, can be grown on ground where corn might fail and works well in ethanol production.
However, markets will dictate what grain product will be used in the production process.
Getting the plant open will be beneficial for the Pratt area. Rural communities need to have good paying jobs to help keep young people in the area and the ethanol plant will help fill that need, Schroeder said.
When the updates are complete, it will be a high quality facility for PBI.
"It's a good facility. It's a win-win for everybody," Schroeder said. "In my mind it will be one of the most efficient (ethanol plants) in the United States."
Right now the demand for ethanol is good in Kansas and Oklahoma. Ethanol is needed for that boost in octane.
The PBI plant will be a good energy efficient plant and help fill that need, Schroeder said.