Idled ethanol plant has new majority owner, working on restart

By Holly Jessen | January 15, 2013

The Scoular Co. announced Jan. 14 that it had sold a portion of its ownership interest in Pratt Energy LLC to a new majority owner. The 55 MMgy ethanol plant in Pratt, Kan., has been idled more than three years.

“We’ve been working on renovations since this summer,” John Heck, senior vice president of Scoular told Ethanol Producer Magazine. “We do think they’ll be complete in late spring of 2013. We have not set a startup date for the plant—I think we will do that as market conditions allow.”

The sale to Pratt Biofuel Investors LLC occurred in December, Scoular said in a press release. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Scoular purchased the former Gateway ethanol plant in 2011. The company has been operating the adjoining 1.8 million bushel rail shuttle facility since that time, while searching for a business partner to operate the ethanol plant.

The investors in Pratt Biofuel Investors are similar to the owners of Calgren Renewable Fuels LLC, a 58 MMgy facility in Pixley, Calif., Heck said. Calgren has been in operation since 2009, giving the company valuable experience in renovating a nearly identical facility to Pratt Energy. The two plants will share management, as Lyle Schlyer, president of Calgren Renewable Fuels, has also been named president of Pratt Energy.

Pratt Biofuel Investors will lead out in renovating the plant. Jerry Schroeder, formerly with Calgren, is on site to manage plant renovations and will take over as plant manager when it is operational. Pratt Biofuel Investors is searching for construction-related workers who could possibly transition into operator jobs and more information about job openings will be available once a startup date has been selected, Scoular said.

Scoular, now a part owner of the Pratt facility, will continue to operate the grain facility, procure feedstock and market distillers grains for the plant. The facility is located on the Union Pacific Railroad, and has the capability to load 100-car trains of grain, dried distillers grains and ethanol. 

“We’re pleased to have selected [Pratt Biofuel Investors] as our business partner in Pratt Energy,” Heck said in a press release. “They bring the solid operating experience required to get this plant up and running, which will allow us to establish even closer relationships with feedstock suppliers, distillers grains consumers and ethanol buyers.”