RFA member East Kansas Agri-Energy celebrates a decade of success

By Renewable Fuels Association | August 13, 2015

The Renewable Fuels Association will join member company East Kansas Agri-Energy on Saturday to celebrate 10 successful years of operation at its plant in Garnett, Kansas.

Saturday’s celebration will feature speeches from key ethanol industry representatives and government officials, including a keynote speech from Sen. Jerry Moran. R-Kan. Those in attendance will also tour the ethanol plant.

“The entire EKAE family should be congratulated for this remarkable achievement,” said RFA Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper. “The EKAE facility has made an indelible mark on the Garnett community, and for that the company’s board, staff, and investors should be very proud. But they should also be proud of the fact that the positive impacts of this plant—including lower gas prices, reduced dependence on foreign oil, and cleaner air—extend well past the borders of Anderson County.”

Since opening in 2005, EKAE has produced and sold more than 376 million gallons of ethanol, more than 2 million tons of wet and dried distillers grains animal feed, and nearly 35 million pounds of corn distillers oil. The plant has processed more than 137 million bushels of corn since opening, creating an important new market for local farmers and adding value to East Kansas crops.

Over the course of the past decade, the plant has expanded its capacity and can now produce 48 million gallons of ethanol per year. Meanwhile, EKAE is also constructing a colocated renewable diesel facility, which broke ground last year, that will convert corn distillers oil into low-carbon advanced biofuel. EKAE was recently certified by the U.S. EPA as an efficient producer; the agency found that EKAE’s corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 27.2 percent compared to petroleum, even when unverifiable land use change emissions are included.

“We’ve come a long way since that first gallon of ethanol in 2005. What started as an idea at a local coffee shop is now a multi-million dollar advanced biofuel refinery,” said EKAE Chairman Bill Pracht. “Our company has evolved to become a leading driver of economic growth in our community, and we’re very proud of that fact. Once our renewable diesel project launches, we will employ more than 50 hard-working men and women at our facility. We’re also proud of our safety record and the fact that we have had no lost-time accidents since day one.”

Jeff Oestmann, EKAE President and CEO, said the ethanol plant has experienced a tremendous level of success in an industry that is often known for its unpredictability. “East Kansas Agri-Energy has had an unquestionably positive economic impact on Garnett, helping to revitalize the community by creating demand for local producers and saving consumers cash at the pump,” stated Oestmann. “But while we tout our accomplishments from the past, we must also look to continue our string of success in the future. We are building a company in which we can all be proud of just as much today as we can another 10 years into the future. Here at East Kansas, we strive to thrive, not just survive.”

Cooper also noted that the ethanol industry is celebrating the 10th anniversary of another landmark event this summer—adoption of the original renewable fuel standard (RFS) in August 2005.

“It’s certainly no coincidence that EKAE is celebrating its 10th anniversary at the same time the RFS is also celebrating its 10th birthday,” Cooper said. “The original RFS played a key role in providing the market certainty needed for farmers and others in the community to invest in a new business that would create high-paying jobs and add value to local crops. And EKAE’s renewable diesel project is living proof that the expanded RFS has worked as intended to spur development of second-generation biofuels like renewable diesel from corn distillers oil.”

Oestmann, Pracht and Cooper will be among the speakers at Saturday’s event. Also scheduled to speak are: Garnett City Manager Joyce Martin, ICM’s Jeff Scharping, Kansas Corn Growers Association’s Greg Krissek, ReNew Kansas’ Tom Tunnel, American Coalition for Ethanol’s Lacey Dixon, KCOE Isom’s Donna Funk, and WB Services’ Bernie Hoffman.