About Cindy Zimmerman

Cindy has been reporting about agricultural topics since 1980 when she graduated with a degree in broadcasting from the University of Florida. She is an emeritus member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters and 1991 Oscar in Agriculture winner. She and her husband Chuck started ZimmComm New Media in 2003. They have three beautiful daughters and live near white sand beaches of Pensacola, Florida.

Team Ethanol Will Go On

The pain is still too fresh for Paul Dana’s friends in the ethanol industry to even start talking about it, but the questions are being asked, and the Wichita Business Journal got some answers from Team Ethanol sponsors ICM and EPIC. ICM

“Absolutely we’ll be back,” ICM President and CEO Dave Vander Griend says. “It’s a tragic, tragic loss, a very tough one for me personally. But the best thing we can do for Paul’s legacy is to continue on, and we’ll do that.” EPIC
Plans for the ethanol racing team are on hold this week out of respect for Dana’s memory, says Tom Slunecka, EPIC executive director.
But keeping Dana’s drive alive to promote ethanol awareness will take center stage later, he says.
“I think we owe it to him to prove his legacy true,” Slunecka says. “We owe it to him to march on in behalf of him, in behalf of the fervor he had for both ethanol and racing. Ethanol was far more than a sponsor to Paul.”

Wait and See

USDA’s Prospective Plantings report out Friday says that farmers will plant five percent less corn acreage this year and seven percent more soybeans than a year ago – mainly because of higher fuel and fertilizer costs. So, what does that mean for ethanol production? Don Roose, an analyst with U.S. Commodities says “This puts the end users on notice like ethanol plants,” according to this article in AgricultureOnline. The Des Moines Register reports that Al Larson, who manages NEW Cooperative’s seed warehouse in Knierim, is skeptical about the report’s findings. “Our yields here the last three years have been just phenomenal,” he said. “I think it might go the other way. Ethanol demand, I think, is going to drive a lot of it. It’s everywhere you look.”
USDA’s estimate was well below what the trade was expecting – almost two million acres less than the low end estimate – so skepticism may be in order. And, as always, yields will largely depend on the weather, which is not predicable in any year. So, we just have to wait and see what really happens this year.

BP Ethanol from Wheat and Fat

BPTwo articles out of Australia talk about BP’s new ethanol plans announced this week – making it from wheat and animal fat. The Weekend Australian story, which actually was published tomorrow on the other side of the world, says BP “would be producing 200 million litres of biofuels within two years. More than half will be derived from tallow – the fat of cattle and sheep – which will be processed to extract ethanol. The ethanol will be mixed with normal petrol, allowing BP to market a blended fuel known as E10 throughout the country by 2008.” They will also be making it from wheat, according to this ABC news story, about 200,000 tonnes a year. Farmers Federation state president Trevor de Langrafft says the plant is a win for wheat farmers. “It’s great to hear such an initiative being developed in Western Australia,” he said.

Washington State Adopts Biodiesel Requirement

NBB This week, Washington became the second state “to commit to making biodiesel an everyday part of the diesel fuel market.” According to a release from the National Biodiesel Board, Washington passed a bill that “sets a requirement that at least 2 percent of diesel sales by volume will be comprised of biodiesel, with 2 percent ethanol in the gasoline market.” The requirement is similar to a law that took effect in Minnesota in 2005.

The requirement goes into effect November 1, 2008 or when in-state production can meet the 2 percent requirement, whichever comes first. The law is expected to create demand for 20 million gallons of biodiesel annually in the first year. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the state of Washington consumed one billion gallons of diesel in 2004.

NBB will be providing help with the implementation process.

Hunting Ethanol

MPH blog Check out the MPH Blog to follow Dave on his hunt for ethanol around Chicago in a Tahoe. Dave wanted to find out more about the “magical blend of corn and gasoline called E85 (which) is either the answer to America’s dependence on foreign fuel or one big scam by farmers, depending on the blogs you read.” So, he got a new Flex Fuel Chevy Tahoe for a week of testing. He writes that he took a “Google Earth view of most of the surrounding E85 stations according to www.e85fuel.com. Note that only two are actually in the City of Chicago. So I’ll be checking out the wilds of the suburbs to see the commutability, price and mileage provided by E85 in the real world. The hunt is on.”

Ethanol Advocate Remembered

Dana The article I like best about Thursday’s memorial for Indy Car driver Paul Dana is from Indystar.com.

Lauded for being more than just a race car driver, Paul Dana was honored Thursday as a leader in the renewable fuel industry.
Dana brought together three of the nation’s leading corn-based fuel manufacturers — previously fierce rivals — to sponsor an open-wheel car in 2003.
Ethanol not only had its decals on Dana’s Indy car when he died Sunday of injuries suffered in an accident at Homestead-Miami Speedway, its product was in every Indy Racing League car.
The IRL is using a 10-percent mixture of ethanol this season and will switch totally in 2007.
“He was taking (ethanol’s) message to the world, not just a state or a country,” IRL chaplain Bob Hills said in a celebration of Dana’s life at a theatre along the course he was to have raced this weekend.
“Ethanol wasn’t just a sponsor to him,” Hills said of Dana. “At times he was tough to shut up about it. Ethanol and the IRL were brought together because of him.”


Gates Deal Slow to Close

Pacific Ethanol 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.

More than a FEW

FEW 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.

Second MS Biodiesel Station Opens

Earth Biofuels 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.

New Server

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!

“Fill Up, Feel Good” Podcast on PowerShift

e-podcast 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)

Dana Memorial Announced

Paul 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.

PowerShift Tour Features Ethanol

powershift 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.

RFA: Supply not going to be an Issue

RFA 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.

E85 Finally Fuels Fleet

E85 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.