Sen. Jerry Moran got a personal tour of the Pratt Energy Ethanol Plant Dec. 29. He visited with several plant workers that explained each step of producing ethanol.

When U.S. Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas paid his second visit to the Pratt Energy Ethanol Plant, the facility was much different than his first visit when the plant was under construction.

Plant Manager Dave Mog, gave Moran a brief history of the plant including the ice storm that caused the plant to shout down not long after it opened, the bankruptcy, the five years it laid dormant and the rebirth that has brought it to its present full capacity operations, the current one third ownership by Scoular Grain and two thirds ownership with Calgren Renewable Fuels based in Pixley, Calif. that has a plant that is built using the same plans.

Mog said Pratt Energy has a capacity of 55 million gallons of ethanol a year but can reach 57 million. The plant is currently running on 100 percent corn but can also switch to sorghum. The plant is high efficiency and reuses it's steam 3.5 time with zero water discharge.

"We're one of the most efficient plants for water use," said Jennifer Slater, plant controller.

They produce 90 percent of their own electricity. The plant produces 45 semi loads of distillers grain a day, 17-20 semi loads of ethanol a day and has 38 full time employees while Scoular Grain has 10 full time employees. Plant operations are continual, 24-7, and Oklahoma is the primary target for the plant.

The plant can ship ethanol out by rail but currently are using just semi trucks.

The plant also produces corn oil that goes to feed lots and is looking at producing bio diesel, Slater said.

Moran visited with Matt Amos, control room lead operator, who explained the brewing process and how the plant is under continual operation. He took Moran on a tour outside the facility and showed him where each stage of the process was done.

The current ethanol market is down right now but Moran said "We're a friend of ethanol. There are things we can do to help."

Moran said they have been knocking at the Environmental Protection Agency's door for a long time to get changes that will help increase the use of ethanol.

Mog said the future of ethanol should be strong because it's hard to find a better octane replacement than ethanol.

Bog said his was impressed with work ethic in Pratt. The area is agriculture based and the workers are top notch.

Moran said he was very impressed with the plant. The crew was very knowledgable about operations and their ethanol output is valuable to the state.

With all the local crops they use, Pratt Energy is helping local farmers and ranchers have a better profit, Moran said.

@GaleR_Tribune