This October, RFA Member East Kansas Agri-Energy, LLC (EKAE) will be celebrating their 5th year anniversary of ethanol production and helping fuel America. A short five years ago, EKAE accepted their first load of corn, produced and shipped their first gallon of ethanol and delivered their first shipment of distillers grains. Throughout these past five years, EKAE has exceeded expectations, now producing ethanol past nameplate capacity and receiving numerous safety awards and energy efficiency recognition. Back in 2000, when planning first began for the East Kansas Agri-Energy plant, ethanol production was at 1.6 billion gallons per year. With increasing production rates of plants like EKAE, today's ethanol production estimate has reached a record 13 billion gallons per year. With the industry growing at such a rapid and successful pace, thousands of jobs and new markets for farmers have become available. As farmers get more efficient each year with the planting and producing corn, ethanol producers get more efficient in producing ethanol and livestock feed, increasing their energy efficiency and decreasing water use. In less than a decade, the ethanol industry has seen a 28 percent reduction in energy use and a 32 percent reduction in water use. East Kansas Agri-Energy has made energy efficiency a priority at their plant, and their hard work has paid off. EKAE was the recipient of an Energy Star award from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2008, recognizing their steam turbine system that "generates 20 percent of their electrical power demands and requires about 23 percent less fuel than typical thermal generation and purchased electricity." According to the EPA, the EKAE plant reduces carbon dioxide emissions by about 14,500 tons per year, which compares to planting 3,000 acres of forest or removing 2,400 cars from our roadways! Talk about being clean and renewable! That is some amazing and innovative work that is being done. In addition to producing clean renewable fuel, East Kansas Agri-Energy takes pride maintaining a clean and safe work environment. "This is important for our employees and our many business partners who work in the facility every day. Simply said, it's just how we do business." EKAE's pride in providing a safe environment was recognized as they received the coveted 2007 Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) award from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). After maintaining a high quality safety and health management system reviewed by OSHA and undergoing a consultation visit consisting of a complete hazard identification survey, EKAE was the second ethanol plant in the country to receive accreditation under this safety program. In 2009, EKAE exemplified safety consistency and received the two-year SHARP certification, which placed them among an elite group of 60 plants that are part of the inspection program. In addition, EKAE received the Excellence in Safety award from the consulting group that performs their safety inspections. These awards and recognition speak for themselves, showing that East Kansas Agri-Energy exemplifies integrity and consistency in going above and beyond to provide a healthy and safe work environment. East Kansas Agri-Energy produces an annual 42 million gallons, surpassing their nameplate production capacity of 35 million gallons per year. That in itself is impressive. In addition to ethanol production, EKAE produces feed from the same bushel of corn. EKAE has the ability to produce both wet and dry distillers, a high protein and valuable food ingredient for livestock. The dried distillers grains are usually stored in bins at the ethanol plant or shipped out to different locations, although most are sold "wet", which can be mixed directly into feed. EKAE produces about 200,000 tons of wet and dried distillers grains every year. There is even one more product that EKAE is able to produce out of that same bushel of corn: corn oil. This product is sold in various markets including animal feed and biodiesel. It is one more way to add value to commodity corn. "Corn-based ethanol is a process that produces fuel and feed – it's not one or the other. We can – and are – doing both everyday." Congratulations to East Kansas Agri-Energy for your commitment to the ethanol industry and your well-deserved accomplishments. It is ethanol plants like East Kansas Agri-Energy that make the ethanol industry strong and what it has become today. Thank you for all your hard work. For more information on East Kansas Agri-Energy, LLC, visit their website at www.ekaellc.com.