Second E15 Station Opens in Iowa

welcome_sign_fredericksburg_iowa photo from http://iowabackroads.comThe Fredericksburg Coop in Fredericksburg, Iowa is now offering E15. The station is the second in Iowa to offer consumers E15. Fredericksburg Coop is located in Northeast Iowa on Highway 18 West.

“I believe retailers see great value in offering a less expensive, cleaner, more American-made fuel option like E15 to their consumers,” said Fredericksburg Coop Petroleum Manager Steve Neuendorf. “Fredericksburg Coop is thrilled to be Iowa’s second retail station to offer E15. We see the option of E15 as a win for our customers – both motorists and farmers. And that is a win for us.”

All cars and light duty trucks manufactured after 2001 are approved to use E15 – representing nearly 85 percent of fuel use. To be approved to sell E15, a retailer must register with the EPA. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) works with retailers to ensure they follow all federal and state E15 regulations.

“We’re excited to get the ball rolling again for E15 in Iowa,” added IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “After the first round of retailer approvals the EPA essentially shut down the system for three months. Now the EPA is apparently back on track and Fredericksburg Coop was the first station approved. IRFA believes that Fredericksburg Coop will be the first of many stations to add the option of cheaper, cleaner E15 in 2013.”

Fiscal Cliff Aversion Benefits Biodiesel

The U.S. House of Representatives burned the midnight oil of the first day in the New Year and signed the Senate’s “fiscal cliff” bill. The package includes several tax extenders items, including the reinstatement of the 2013 biodiesel blenders tax credit as well as retroactive credit for 2012. Shortly after the vote, the biodiesel industry reacted including the Renewable Energy Group (REG), the country’s largest biodiesel producer.

us-capitol-fiscal-cliff-vote Photo: Bloomberg | ANDREW HARRAR“We are thankful that Congress and the President support the growth of the biodiesel industry through the reinstatement of the credit and for recognizing biodiesel’s important role in energy and food security and job creation. This tax credit provides certainty for our petroleum distributor customers and, in turn, market stability for commercial biodiesel producers like us.”

The National Biodiesel Board will have something good to celebrate during its 10th Annual Conference: Momentum next month. The $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax incentive was first implemented in 2005. Congress has allowed it to lapse twice, in 2010 and again in 2012. Under the legislation approved by the House on Tuesday and first passed by the Senate on Monday, the incentive will be reinstated retroactively to Jan. 1, 2012 and through the end of 2013. Each time the tax credit lapsed, thousands of jobs were lost and production dropped.

“It’s been a long year with a lot of missed opportunity and lost jobs in the biodiesel industry. But we’re pleased that Congress has finally approved an extension so that we can get production back on track,” said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board (NBB). “This is not an abstract issue. In the coming months, because of this decision, we’ll begin to see real economic impacts with companies expanding production and hiring new employees.”

Randy Olson, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, added,  “The passage of the biodiesel tax incentive will mean tangible job creation in Iowa and beyond.  Encouraging production of American-made fuel brings economic development and energy security – two of our nation’s top priorities.  This is an investment in American energy that will pay dividends.  Although the federal Renewable Fuel Standard helped create market stability, one Iowa plant was forced to shut its doors temporarily. The reinstatement of the tax incentive will help Iowa biodiesel reach its full potential.  In 2013, we can expect a thriving industry that contributes even more to the state’s economy.”

It is expected that President Obama will sign the package quickly. The new Congress begins on January 3, 2013 and members have stated that they will continue to work through the country’s financial issues.

A Look at 2012 on DomesticFuel

df2012new2012 was a challenging year for the renewable fuels industry. The biodiesel tax credit expired, the Renewable Fuels Standard was attacked, E15 continues to be attacked and there is yet to be a Farm Bill passed. With the fiscal cliff looming, many tax credits and incentives for wind, solar and advanced renewable fuels are set to expire. This uncertainty caused the wind energy industry to lay off thousands of workers, and several companies striving to produce advanced biofuels altered their business plans to begin producing biochemicals and biomaterials instead.

But on the positive side, the Domestic Fuel industry won the battle to keep the RFS in tact, E15 is now being sold in several states, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 was passed ensuring the military can continue to use and develop biofuels and American Ethanol NASCAR driver Austin Dillion won Rookie of the Year. In addition, more energy was produced using renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal than ever before and President Obama was elected for a second term.  All of these stories, plus more, were some of the Top Stories of 2012 on DomesticFuel.

We now have more than 2,100 followers on Twitter (@DomesticFuel). There were over 1200 posts on Domestic Fuel this year, with nearly 175 with audio interviews, podcasts and recorded press conferences. We covered the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, National Biodiesel Conference, National Ethanol Conference, Automotive Service & Repair Week, Iowa Ethanol Day, Trade Talk, Farm Progress, the 25th Annual Ethanol Conference, RFA Sponsorship of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and more.

As we enter a new Domestic Fuel era, we wish all of our readers, sponsors and friends a healthy, happy, prosperous and blessed new year!

Top Stories for 2012

domesticfuel logoThis is the time of year where people reflect on the year past and look to the next year. 2012 was a roller coaster year for the alternative energy industry but amidst some struggles, the industry saw many successes.  Here is a brief look at some of the top stories for 2012 covered on DomesticFuel.

Top Stories for 2012:

As the country ends the year on the edge of the fiscal cliff, there will be widespread implications for the future of the alternative energy industry. Keep reading DomesticFuel.com as we continue to bring you the news.

Best Books of 2012

Best Books of 2012If your New Year’s resolution to is get a bit smarter about alternative energy and the environment, then start your education with the Best Books of 2012.

Here are the top five best books I read in 2012.

5. “The Powers That Be,” by Scott L. Montgomery

4. “Eaarth,” by Bill McKibben

3. “Sustainable Transport Fuels,” by David Thorpe

2. “Rooftop Revolution,” by Danny Kennedy

1. “Rebuild the Dream,” by Van Jones

Enjoy your reading!

Book Review – Build the New City!

Here is an idea to take into the new year – build a new city – or a utopia for the future. Author Todd Durant proposes the U.S. “Build The New City!” to solve three major problems: create millions of jobs, preparation for population growth and rising sea levels and national pride.

Build The New City Book CoverSome of our readers may be familiar with South Korea’s Songdo IBD, a $35 billion “smart” city and the largest real-estate development in history. Another similar idea is Tatu City in Kenya. One of the keys to both of these cities is that they are being built with climate change in mind. Durant proposes that the U.S. build a similar city from scratch that incorporates urban living, energy efficiency, renewable energy, public transportation and green spaces.

The New City would be built using the concept of the DurantHybrid for urban transportation and neighborhood planning. The New City will be built upon five principles: 1) federal and state governments absolutely must not be involved in any aspect of the funding; 2) funding of the New City must come entirely from private enterprise and investment; 3) the military should not be involved; 4) issue millions in municipal bonds that will serve to raise money for the building of the city; and 5) the workers who build the New City must be paid well.

Durant acknowledges that he is not a city planner, and the book is big on ideas and light on an actual plan. The idea has merits – the U.S. does need to rethink how it is renovating urban living for the future that may be affected by climate change and diminishing fossil fuels. However, realistically, I can’t foresee a future with a new city but I can see some of Durant’s concepts incorporated into the rebuilding of current cities. Have your own ideas? Share them at www.buildthenewcity.com.

Win a copy of this book. Email me with the name of the book in the subject line and your contact info in the body of the email. The winner will be announced in the January 9th issue of the DomesticFuel newsletter.

E15 Could Save Iowa Drivers $69M

sig_091712_e15_carouselBased on gasoline sales data released today by the Iowa Department of Revenue, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) said that Iowa motorists could have saved $69 million in 2012 if E15 would have been widely available in Iowa. E15, a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, is approved for use for vehicles manufactured after 2001 or newer.

“$69 million buys a lot of Christmas presents,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “With E15, Iowans can spend less while boosting the Iowa economy. That’s a pretty good deal. IRFA is working with retailers across the state to make E15 access a reality. Until E15 is widely available, Iowans will continue paying more at the pump than they should.”

The potential savings with E15 were calculated using 1,630 million gallons of Iowa gasoline use (extrapolated from Iowa Department of Revenue figures). Roughly 85 percent of the fuel sold goes into vehicles that can legally use E15. Where E15 has been sold, it has averaged 5 cents per gallon lower than E10.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson Steps Down

After nearly four years as the Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Lisa Jackson has announced in a statement that she would be stepping down as President Obama begins his second term. While reports say she gave no specific reason for leaving her position, she said in a statement, “I will leave the EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction, and ready in my own life for new challenges, time with my family and new opportunities to make a difference.”

Lisa-Jackson EPAUnder Jackson’s tutelage, the EPA approved the use of E15 in vehicles and light duty trucks manufactured after 2001. She also announced in 2009, during COP15, that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas pollutant, and as such, could be monitored. At the time, both of these decisions caused heated debate that still continues.

In a separate statement, Obama said Jackson has been “an important part of my team.” He thanked her for serving and praised her “unwavering commitment” to the public’s health.

In reaction to her departure, Tom Buis CEO of Growth Energy said, “Administrator Jackson has been a dedicated advocate for the renewable fuels industry and her work to reduce our nation’s addiction to foreign oil, while providing cleaner air and a better environment, should be commended.  As Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, she should be applauded for all she has done to advance biofuels and a cleaner, better environment. Growth Energy wishes her well and thanks her for her tireless work during her time at the EPA.”

Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), added, “Administrator Jackson put into action the Obama Administration’s commitment to ethanol and other biofuels. During her tenure, she cleared the way for E15 giving consumers more choice and savings at the gas pump and she protected the progress that has been made in reducing our dependence of foreign oil by recognizing the importance and inherent flexibility of the RFS. The ethanol industry thanks her for her service and looks forward to working with her successor to continue the growth of America’s domestic renewable fuels industry.”

While Jackson has not announced her next move, there is speculation that she may run for Governor of New Jersey. There has been no announcement of who will take her place.

Thorntons Wins Paul Dana Excellence in Bioenergy

The Indiana State Department of Agriculture honored Thorntons Inc. as the recipient of the Paul Dana Excellence in Bioenergy Leadership Award. The honor was given during the Greater Indiana Clean Cities Coalition Holiday Reception by Indiana’s Ag Director Joseph Kelsay.

THORNTONS Gas Station with ethanolThe Paul Dana Award was established by Governor Mitch Daniels and Lt. Governor Becky Skillman in 2006 after Indy Racing League driver Paul Dana was killed in racing accident. A strong supporter of biofuels, the award recognizes those who have shown exemplified leadership and innovative vision in the bioenergy industry.

“I congratulate the Thornton family for its entrepreneurial spirit, growing the fueling business from a single station in New Albany, Ind. in 1952 to be among Forbes Magazine’s 500 largest privately held companies today,” said Lt. Governor Skillman, who serves as Secretary of Agriculture. “We thank you for your support of Indiana and including mid-level ethanol blends and E85 at your stations.”

Thorntons began retailing gasoline in 1952 with a single location in New Albany, Indiana, but the first “Thorntons” opened in Clarksville, Indiana in 1971.

The 2012 Greater Indiana Clean Cities Award Recipients:

  • Ethanol Blends Award – Thorntons Inc.
  • Propane/Autogas Award – Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT)
  • Compressed Natural Gas Award – Palmer Trucks
  • Support of Multiple Alternative Fuels and Technologies (Silver BB’s Award) – Ivy Tech Lafayette Automotive Department, Alternative Fuels Technical Training
  • BioDiesel Blends – North Central Co-op

Amyris Begins Biofene Production in Brazil

Amyris-logo (1)Amyris has announced that it has completed a $42.25 million private placement of its common stock. The company has also begun production of its industrial fermentation facility in Brazil and is producing Biofene, its brand of renewable farnesene, a fragrant oil chemical. When adding a hydrogen molecule to farnesene, you get farnesane, which is the foundation molecule for renewable diesel.

“We are encouraged by the continued, strong commitment from our major investors, particularly as we start up our new industrial fermentation facility for the production of our renewable hydrocarbons in Brazil,” said John Melo, Amyris President & CEO. “Our own farnesene plant at Paraiso has been successfully commissioned, with initial farnesene production underway. We anticipate sales from this facility during the first quarter of 2013.”

The Company sold 14,177,849 shares of common stock in a private placement to existing Amyris investors. The transaction included $37.25 million in cash proceeds and the conversion by Total Gas & Power USA, SAS of $5 million from an outstanding senior unsecured convertible promissory note.

Biofuels – Bringing Sexy Back?

I was recently forwarded an opinion piece on how to promote biofuels and it struck a cord with me. In June 2011, I published an article in Industrial Biotechnology called “Back to basics: Redefining the biotechnology message.” In it, I said the current messages weren’t working – especially when tied to climate change where public opinion is slipping.

The opinion piece, “How to properly promote biofuels,” was authored by Alkol Bioenergy and focused on a new TV advertising campaign running in Brazil. The campaign was developed for UNICA (Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association) and featured images of ethanol being cool and sexy. The op-ed piece points out that this is very different from what is being done in Europe and the USA.

“Truth is that facts such as job creation, national security, global warming, etc., have never proved their value, as they all depend on a previous knowledge about socioeconomic issues people are unaware of or simply do not care, ignoring instead the real motivations for people using something new,” is written in the piece.

While I agree to some level, I do still feel that job creation and economic security are two reasons that work for some, more specifically those who are well-informed about the issues such as our readers. Where I think the messages still struggle is with the average person, who doesn’t really, truly understand why biofuels, or renewable energy or sustainability in particular, is important.

Let me give you an example of what is happening in China. Several years ago there were articles citing the sale of fake solar panels. But the solar panels were not sold and installed only to discover they never worked; they were never intended to work. They were designed to increase a buyer ‘s social standing in the community who couldn’t afford real solar panels.  In China, those who had solar panels on their homes are better respected and maintain a higher social status than those who don’t.

So why aren’t Americans or Europeans, or others in any other country given more respect when they adopt renewable energy or sustainability initiatives? Because in many cases, these early adopters were/are seen as snobs, I am better than you, rather than as leaders of a movement. And this, I think is key. We need to make renewable energy cool and we need to make renewable energy for everyone. And this lies the point of the editorial, where I wholeheartedly agree, biofuels need to be seen as cool, as the UNICA ad portrays.  As Gareth Kane wrote in “Green Jujitsu,” we need to make renewable energy and environmental consciousness sexy.

Book Review – Green Jujitsu

Can you define sustainability? More than likely, but it is also likely that your definition is different than a colleagues, family member or friend. The green movement touts sustainability but how do you actually integrate the idea of sustainability into your business? To answer this question, I turned to the DoShort, “Green Jujitsu,” written by Gareth Kane.

Green JujitsuThe book focuses on how to help businesses become more sustainable and how to make it stick. The answer? Harness the strengths of your employees rather than focusing on their weaknesses. Kane aptly uses the analogy of the martial art of jujitsu. This concept is focused on using your opponents strength, energy and momentum against them and levering into submission. While Kane doesn’t promote bringing your employees to submission, he does promote the idea of bringing people on board with sustainability initiatives by understanding their strengths and weaknesses.

I often struggle with the way the renewable energy industry promotes itself and have come to believe that the industry is not using the right language and stories to gain public and policy support. In some regard, I feel I’ve found an ally in Kane and his message.

He notes that oftentimes, “The green movement has a well-earned reputation for presenting sustainability as the hair-shirt option….We are bombarded with litanies of how we should be ashamed of ourselves as a species….Hand up who wants a guilt trip? The answer is to make it fun; ditch the hair-shirt and make sustainability sexy.”

In other words, make sustainability attractive, positive and compelling.

While this book hits the mark on guiding a business through the process of engaging employees into sustainability practices that will also help to save money, it is also a good lesson in messaging for the industry.  This book should be read by both sustainability leaders and champions, but also by those who are helping the industry to craft its sustainability messages.  Green Jujitsu is a “art” the industry could, and should get behind.

REG Newton Extends Loan Agreement

REG LogoRenewable Energy Group (REG) has announced that its REG Newton, LLC loan with AgStar Financial Service, PCA was extended for one additional year. The biodiesel facility entered into this debt agreement with AgStar in conjunction with the related March 2010 acquisition of the assets of Central Iowa Energy, LLC.

“We’re pleased that the lender syndicate saw fit to extend this note in a routine manner,” said REG Chief Financial Officer, Chad Stone.

The new maturity date is March 2014, and all material terms remain the same for the 30 million gallon per year biorefinery.

Ontario Home to New Wind Farm

NextEra Energy Canada has completed its first wind farm in Ontario Canada – Conestogo Wind Energy Centre. The 22.9 megawatt wind project is located in Wellington County, Ontario, and comprised of 10 Siemens wind turbines. The wind farm Conestogo Wind Energy Centrehas the capacity to generate enough energy to power around 5,700 homes per year.  All of the power from the project is being sold to the Ontario Power Authority under the Feed-In-Tariff program. Conestogo Wind, LP, an indirect subsidiary of NextEra Energy Canada, owns and operates the project.

“We are pleased to have completed our first wind project in Ontario,” said Mike O’Sullivan, NextEra Energy Resources senior vice president of development. “In addition to generating clean, emission-free energy, this project will have a positive impact on the local economy through the jobs created, taxes paid, lease payments to landowners, and goods and services sourced throughout the region.”

The Conestogo Wind Energy Centre is the first of eight wind projects NextEra Energy Canada plans to bring into service by the end of 2015 in Ontario. Combined, NextEra Energy Canada’s eight Ontario wind projects represent a capital investment in the province of approximately $1.5 billion.

New Plant-Based Cellulase Enzyme

Iowa Corn Field in Aug Photo Joanna SchroederInfinite Enzymes has launched IE-CBHI, a single activity, plant-based cellulase enzyme. The enzyme is available for research and development projects through Sigma-Aldrich Corporation.

The global industrial enzymes market is projected to reach 3.74 billion by 2015, not including many emerging applications in advanced biofuels and biobased products. Enzymes are a critical role in converting cellulose and hemicellulose in biomass to sugars, which becomes the foundation to produce biofuels, biochemicals or biomaterials.

According to Infinite Enzymes, their technology produces enzymes in a lower value part of the corn kernel thereby creating a new sustainable market for corn processing by-products.  The company says their technology lowers the cost of sugar production needed for developing low-cost biobased plastics and advanced biofuels.

Recently, Infinite Enzymes received a $450,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to advance its enzyme development technology.