Pacific Ethanol is running behind with its annual report and its deal to sell stock to Bill Gates. According to a Reuters stock market report Friday, the company said its annual report will be late due to delays completing its audit. It expects to file the report by April 17. The company also said it will not close on Friday on the sale of $84 million in preferred stock to Gates’s investment vehicle Cascade Investment LLC, as had been planned. That deal was announced last December. The Cascade deal is supposed to close about the same time the annual report is due out.
Registration is now open for the 22nd Annual International Fuel Ethanol Workshop and Expo, June 20-23 in Milwuakee, Wisconsin. You read that right – 22 years. According to the website, the workshop began in 1985 in St. Louis with just 40 people in attendance and has increased to over 1,800 in 2005 representing 45 States, 6 Canadian provinces and nearly 30 countries around the world. BBI International runs the event which is designed to provide the ethanol industry with the latest information on technology, products, services, research and new ideas for improving production, product yields, and operations of an ethanol facility. Sponsorship opportunities and exhibitor information is also available on-line.
Celebrities and lawmakers gathered ’round the pump this week for the opening of the second Earth Biofuels “BioWillie” filling station in Mississippi. According to a press release, among those in attendance was actor and Earth Biofuels board member Morgan Freeman. Also on hand was Mississippi state senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, who stated, “I cannot think of anything better we can do for the agricultural and farming community than what we are doing here today.” The new biodiesel truck stop/service station located in Grenada, Miss. The first Earth Biofuels station in the state opened last year near Jackson.
We are back in the saddle again today after temporarily losing our log-in capabilities during a server changeover this week. Now we can log in, but it lost a few posts in the process. I may or may not be able to re-create them – if I can figure out what they were – but I am just happy that I can post stuff again!
The latest “Fill Up, Feel Good” podcast from the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council is about the PowerShift conferences being held during the month of April (see previous post). The podcast features comments from 2020 Vision executive director Tom Collina, who is coordinating the conferences, and Michigan Ethanol general manager Tony Simpson, who is taking part in the first conference Saturday in Kalamazoo, MI.
The “Fill up, Feel Good” podcast is available to download by subscription (see our sidebar link) or you can listen to it by clicking here. (5:10 MP3 File)
The Paul Dana Fund For Renewable Energy has been set up to honor the memory of the Team Ethanol Indy Car driver who was fatally injured last Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. According to Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC), the Dana family has asked that all donations be sent to the Fund in care of the National Bank of Indianapolis, 107 N. Pennsylvania St., Suite 100, Indianapolis, IN, 46204. A memorial service to celebrate Paul Dana’s life will be held Thursday at 5:15 p.m. in Mahaffey Theatre – inside the race course of the Honda Grand Prix in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The Rahal Letterman Racing (RLR) team has withdrawn the No. 17 Team Ethanol Honda Panoz Firestone entry for this weekend’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg out of respect for Dana and his family. Team co-owner Bobby Rahal said they hope to name a replacement driver for the No. 17 car in the near future. Dana’s RLR teammates Buddy Rice and Danica Patrick will compete in this weekend’s St. Petersburg street event.
Rice and Patrick made their first public comments today about the tragedy. Rice, who won the 2004 Indianapolis 500, said it is never easy when you lose someone in the racing community. “It is very difficult for a close-knit group like the IndyCar Series. I got to know Paul through our testing and he was a good guy. He did a great job in developing the Team Ethanol program. He was learning about our cars and team. Our team will work through this loss and move on.”
Patrick, who was named Rookie of the Year last year, commented on her feelings about Paul’s death and the risks of high speed racing. “I believe Paul is in a better place. But this is a tragedy. We have the greatest safety equipment in the world and still this sport is and can be dangerous. We know that.”
“Late Night” talk show host David Letterman, the other half of the RLR ownership team, offered his condolences to the Dana family during his show last night. AP reports that Letterman saluted Dana, whose picture appeared on the screen, shortly before a commercial on his show Monday. He said the racing world was thinking about the young driver’s family.
A series of events will be getting underway April 1 designed to “engage decision-makers, youth, farmers, media and the general public on energy security.” The first of six PowerShift conferences is being held this Saturday at Western Michigan University. It will feature a slate of speakers focused on better educating the public about alternative energy options to help reduce the country’s dependency on foreign oil. Among those speakers will be Joanna Schroeder, communications director for the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. “As a domestic source of renewable energy, ethanol needs to play a central role in U.S. energy security,” says Schroeder. “That’s why we’re excited to be part of Powershift 2006 and the dialogue it’s promoting to drive alternative energy sources forward.” Other events will be held in Richmond, VA; Portland, OR; Fort Wayne, IN; Lawrence, KS and Washington, DC. Click here to find out more about the 2006 PowerShift National Tour and for event registration.
The “promoter-in-chief” of the ethanol industry plans to tell a Senate committee tomorrow that the industry is prepared for the transition from MTBE to ethanol. The Renewable Fuels Association sent out this audio clip from president Bob Dinneen, in which he states, “Supply is not going to be an issue” when it comes to the transition. Dinneen, who is proud of the “promoter-in-chief” moniker assigned to him by the Wall Street Journal, says tomorrow’s Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing is “timely” and he plans to testify that the ethanol industry is working hard to make sure “the transition from MTBE to ethanol in the mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Texas is as successful as it was in California, New York and Connecticut.” As to the question of whether there will be enough supply to meet the demand, Dinneen says “you bet there will be.” RFA announced today that the U.S. ethanol industry continued its record setting pace with a new monthly production record of 288,000 barrels per day in January.
All good things take time. In the case of the city of St. Paul, it took nine years for them to find a reliable source to fuel their fleet cars that can run on 85 percent ethanol. According to this article from the St. Paul Pioneer Press, they “recently struck a deal with the University of Minnesota to buy E85. The city’s flex-fuel fleet of sedans is, at last, going green.” That will happen on April 1. In addition to the city’s fleet of 55 flex-fuel cars running on E85, they will also start fueling their heavier trucks with 20 percent biodiesel this summer. While St. Paul’s interim public works director, Bruce Beese does admit the fleet will be getting about 20 percent less mileage from E85 compared to gasoline, “You’re doing it for the emissions,” Beese said.
USDA research scientists are exploring the possibility of using peas to make ethanol. According to this Agricultural Research Service story, the research project got started because farmers who grow field peas were looking for a way to add value to their crop.
Most peas grown in the northern United States and elsewhere are fed whole to animals as a rich source of protein. The remainder is sold for human consumption as split peas. Besides protein, field peas also contain lots of starch. The farmers thought they might earn more if the crop’s starch could be used to make ethanol for fuel, while still using the leftover protein as high-value feed for animals.
So the scientists went to work separating out the pea starch and making it into ethanol and they found that it “produced somewhat less ethanol than corn (1.7 gallons per bushel versus 2.8), because the legume had less starch to begin with. But the pea starch fermented just as easily as corn starch. Potentially, the high yield of enriched protein, together with the fermentation leftovers, could be sold as livestock feed.”
The World Peace Herald ran this UPI story that I have not seen anywhere else. It mainly focuses on E85 and features comments from National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition executive director Phil Lampert. I thought one of the more interesting parts of the article was addressing the lower fuel economy of E85 and Lampert’s comments regarding that.
According to the fueleconomy.gov Web site, 35 FFV’s exist in 2006 models. Each model receives less fuel economy in the ethanol version. For example, the popular eight-cylinder Ford Crown Victoria sedan is estimated to get 25 mpg on the highway with regular unleaded, but 18 mpg as a FFV. This is a 28 percent drop in gas mileage.
Lampert told United Press International it is necessary to account for this drop in fuel economy with a subsequent drop in price per gallon of fuel to entice users to buy. The price reconfiguration should be relative to the change in fuel economy, he added. For example, with the Ford Crown Victoria receiving 28 percent fewer mpg, the price per gallon of ethanol-blended fuel should be 28 percent cheaper.
Staff and board members of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council spent Monday fielding media inquiries, taking condolence messages and dealing with their own personal grief over the death of Team Ethanol driver Paul Dana Sunday. Plans have been made for a memorial service this Thursday that will include the race community and Team Ethanol supporters. The service is being held in St. Petersburg, the site of the Honda Grand Prix on Sunday.
In a message to ethanol industry members, EPIC staff member Steve Rust wrote:
We’re overwhelmed by the response from all of our members and supporters wishing to do something in honor of Paul and his efforts. We are looking for ways to honor Paul for his commitment and determination to bring the benefits of ethanol to the American people. We are asking that everyone be patient and give us an opportunity to talk with Paul’s family to do something that would truly be meaningful to Paul.
They are also waiting on direction as to where donations may be sent. Meanwhile, they ask you to pray for Paul’s family and friends who continue to struggle with this sudden loss.
In Memory of Paul Dana
What a difference a day can make. If yesterday was a good day at the races for ethanol – bad doesn’t even begin to describe today. Yesterday at about this time, Chuck was on the phone with Paul Dana who was just on top of the world, happy that he had qualified ninth for the first IRL Indy Car race of the season. That was the last media interview the 30-year-old race car driver ever did, which is not a distinction we here at Domestic Fuel ever hoped to have. I spent the day today at a meeting and out of touch from home base here, so I was shocked when I got back home and Chuck told me to check the website to find out what happened. He wouldn’t even tell me, just that it was bad. I assumed it must have been a crash, but I never imagined it would have taken the life of someone we had just interviewed – someone we had come to know through our involvement with Team Ethanol. Paul died doing what he loved but our hearts are saddened by the loss of someone with such a bright future. Eternal rest grant unto him, Lord – and let the perpetual green light shine upon him. Amen.
We couldn’t be trackside in Homestead this weekend for the Toyota Indy 300, but as Ma Bell used to say long distance is the next best thing to being there so we got some on the phone reactions from a couple of major stakeholders in the IRL-ethanol future. One is veteran racer and team owner Bobby Rahal of Rahal Letterman Racing who says he is pleased with how his team qualified for the Sunday race. “The team has qualified well with Danica third, Buddy Rice sixth and Paul Dana ninth, which is by far the best qualifying he’s ever had and we’re very pleased for Paul and the ethanol car for that kind of qualification.”
Listen to Chuck’s 3:10 interview with Bobby here.
Another person who is watching the race this weekend is Wayne Mitchell, vice president of ethanol plant design and contruction company Fagen, Inc. Mitchell is also a board member of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council and he says there’s no better venue than the Indy Car Series to show how well ethanol performs. “I’m excited to be a part of the Indy Car Series and to have them embrace our fuel at the ten percent level and going to 100 percent next year. It’s going to give us some real visibility this year and a real opportunity to demonstrate the performance side of our fuel.”
Listen to Chuck’s 3:22 interview with Wayne here.
Keep your eye on #17 – the bright green and blue Team Ethanol car – during the race at 3:45 pm Eastern Sunday. Go Team Ethanol!
All three drivers for the Rahal Letterman Racing team, sponsored by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council, qualified in the top ten for tomorrow’s Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway – the first of the IRL Indy Car Series races to use ten percent ethanol fuel. The 2005 Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick will start third in tomorrow’s race, 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice qualified for sixth, and rookie Paul Dana – driving the number 17 Team Ethanol car – qualified for ninth. Dana told us in an interview this afternoon, “It’s awesome to be qualified in the top ten in such a competitive field and it’s great for my confidence. I’m going for Rookie of the Year this year and it’s a real strong starting spot. But pay day is tomorrow.”
The top two qualifiers today broke the track’s previous qualifying record, set in 2004 by Buddy Rice, and as part of an ethanol industry-sponsored team Dana says he was pleased to see the ethanol-enhanced fuel perform well. “The cars are always going quicker year after year so it’s pretty normal to see a track record, but we’re certainly happy that ethanol could be a part of it.” Listen to Dana’s interview here.