Enogen Corn Passes 300,000 Acres

In one year the acres planted in Enogen corn will expand from 100,000 acres in 2014 to more than 300,000 acres in 2015 and that means that ethanol production will be expanding too. To learn more about how Syngenta achieved this feat, I spoke with David Witherspoon, head of renewable fuels for Syngenta during Farm Progress. Not only are ethanol plants excited about Enogen corn (Syngenta donates $1 per acre planted to the renewable fuels industry), but corn farmers are excited about it as well – they receive a 40 cent premium. So assuming an average yield of 165 bushels an acre, Enogen corn will generate approximately $6.6 million of additional revenue for the local growers who have signed contracts in 2014.

What is interesting is that only 15 percent of a farmer’s acre is planted with Enogen corn because the “sweet” spot for ethanol production is 15 percent. David Witherspoon Syngenta:EnogenSo how is Enogen different? As Witherspoon explained, the Enogen corn enzyme technology offers ethanol plants an opportunity to increase their per bushel ethanol production as well as improve energy efficiency during the production process.

“The ethanol plant needs an enzyme for ethanol production at 15 percent and then this corn is mixed with the other corn that comes into the plant,” explained Witherspoon. “And the way we found this out is that we tested plants in the lab and looked at what the optimal dosage at that plant to get the maximum performance enzyme. And if we go higher than that, we found that we don’t need anymore.”

When you look at a farmer’s field growing Enogen corn you can’t tell the difference. The corn has the exact same benefits (pest control, disease control, etc.) that other Syngenta hybrids have.

Another application that Witherspoon said that Enogen corn is really excelling in is when used with the “ACE” technology, or Adding Cellulosic Ethanol, that separates the fiber from the corn kernel and produces cellulosic ethanol. It’s the first technology of its kind in the world and the Galva, Iowa plant went online with commercial scale cellulosic ethanol production this summer. Syngenta was so impressed with the technology that they have partnered with the plant to sell the technology.

So here’s the scoop. Several ethanol plants who are buying the Enogen corn have sold out their acres for the 2015 growing season but there are still a few acres left for some other ethanol plants. In addition, Witherspoon said there are quite a few farmers who would like to plant Enogen corn but need to partner with their local ethanol plant to implement the program. So, all ethanol plants that would like to pursue the program need to contact Syngenta soon to get in the program before it sells out this year. And if you are interested in seeing first-hand how Enogen corn performs, then come to the Quad County Corn Processors grand opening on September 9, 2014.

To learn more about Enogen corn and its benefits for farmers and for ethanol plants, listen to my interview with David Witherspoon: Interview with David Witherspoon

View the Farm Progress 2014 Flicker photo album.

IA Ag Secy Bill Northey On Corn, RFS

IA Ag Secy Bill NortheyThere are two big topics during the Farm Progress Show this year: the corn crop and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). During the show, I had the opportunity to speak with Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey who is a corn farmer and also a huge supporter of biofuels. I first asked him how the corn crop was looking with all the August rain.

Northey said that for the most part, Iowa is going to have a great corn crop. He said that there are some pockets that had too much rain and hail in June (this affected his farm) but overall, the corn crop is going to offset some of the below average acres and Iowa should see a record crop.

I asked Northey how the record corn crop would positively affect biofuels, such as the Project Liberty cellulosic ethanol plant and the Quad County Corn ethanol/cellulosic plants that are celebrating grand openings this year.

“Well certainly we have enough corn to be able to fuel our biofuel plants, to be able to have exports and to be able to feed the livestock we have in this country,” said Northey. He said it is exciting to see the next generation come, “and it makes us think of the Renewable Fuel Standard and the Environmental Protection Agency not coming forward with a target this year. It’s frustrating to have it already be August and have it go to OMB now [Office of Management and Budget] and it could be another 90 days until it comes out of there and the year will be darn near over by the time we find out how much we should blend this year.”

“It’s too bad its gotten to this point,” Northey continued. “What we need is a big green light from the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] that ethanol will expand from the 10 percent blend to E15 blends and we can get our 85 percent blends in that cellulosic will be supported so we can see more investment, more jobs and certainly more demand from our corn crop and our cellulosic opportunities which includes corn stover but it will be other things in other places.”

Learn more about the corn crop and RFS by listening to my interview with Bill Northey: Interview with Bill Northey

View the Farm Progress 2014 Flicker photo album.

RIN Academy Focuses on RFS

EcoEngineers is hosting its RIN Academy 2014 on Tuesday, September, 16, 2014 at the Embassy  Suites in Des Moines, Iowa from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm. The conference is designed to help unravel the world of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS). RINS are used to monitor the use of biofuels or renewable volume obligations for obligated parties as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

EcoEngineers RIN AcademyIowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey will deliver the keynote for the event, highlighting Iowa’s leadership in renewable fuel production. In addition to being the largest producer of ethanol and biodiesel, Iowa is home to three of America’s first cellulosic ethanol plants. The conference will also host more than 20 distinguished panelists and speakers, including representatives from the EPA, business leaders, academics, and policymakers.

“As leaders in the renewable fuels industry, EcoEngineers looks forward to bringing everyone together and facilitating substantive discussions around the newest legislation concerning the renewable fuels standard,” said Shashi Menon, managing partner at EcoEngineers. “This year, we’re adding biogas as a topic of discussion because we believe that it has the potential to be a huge asset to Iowa and the country. We want to share what we’ve learned.”

Topics to be discussed include:
• Latest developments and upcoming changes to RFS and RIN policy
• State of advanced biofuels industry and opportunities ahead
• How city and county governments can financially benefit from the RFS
• Opportunities in biogas as a new fuel source

Conference panelists include Robert C. Brown, Director of Iowa State’s Bioeconomy Institute; Delayne Johnson of Quad County Corn Processors, which recently produced the first cellulosic ethanol gallons in Iowa from corn; Mike McAdams, President of Advanced Biofuels Association; Sharyn Lie, Center Director at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Steve Ogle, Commercial Business Leader from DuPont; and many others.

Click here for more information and register.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFEPCE, the Energy Providers Coalition for Education, and its founding education partner, the Bismarck State College (BSC) National Energy Center for Excellence have announced the newest addition to their high-quality energy education resources – the Nuclear Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) online simulator. This simulator is integrated into BSC’s online Nuclear Power Technology curriculum designed to educate a pipeline of employees for the nuclear power industry. This simulator includes all the aspects of an actual nuclear power plant.
  • Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has announced the launch of a major new campaign, Defend Our Future, that will focus on motivating young voters to show their support for climate action at the ballot box. The campaign will begin with a two million dollar voter turnout effort in Colorado aimed at demonstrating the power of young voters who care solving climate change.
  • Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Limited, known as “Yingli Solar,” has announced that they have partnered with renewable energy developer Push Energy Ltd. to supply Yingli Solar’s multicyrstalline modules for four large-scale PV power plants in the United Kingdom.
  • Cougar Solar, the UK’s premier source for solar powered gadgets and devices is set to launch a new magazine come September 2014. The main goal of the magazine is to be a primary source of information for all things solar energy related in the UK and internationally. The magazine is aimed at individuals and businesses alike, to be both educative and informative.

CHS Supports Cenex Tank Program to Boost E15

CHS has developed a new program to better enable some of the 1,400 Cenex branded locations across the country to meet consumer demand for E15 ethanol fuel blend. “We are excited to offer a new Cenex® Tank Program, which further demonstrates CHS leadership in renewable fuels and helps keep the Cenex brand at the forefront in meeting consumer demand for ethanol blends,” said Doug Dorfman, CHS vice president – refined fuels.

Cenex StationThe Cenex Tank Program will cover a significant portion of the cost to purchase and install an additional storage tank for the purpose of offering E15 for interested retailers. The Cenex network was one of the first to begin offering mid-level ethanol blends and according to Dorfman, the stations have seen significant increases in ethanol sales.

“Growth Energy applauds CHS Inc. and Cenex for their steadfast commitment to renewable fuels and their announcement of the Cenex Tank Program, which will better enable some of the 1,400 Cenex branded locations to meet consumer demands for E15,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy in response to the news. “The new program will cover a substantial part of the cost to obtain and install an additional E15 storage tank for retailers interested in expanding their offerings.”

Buis continued, “Their decision also demonstrates the strength of consumer demand for higher ethanol blends such as E15. It proves once again that consumers will select a high performance, low cost fuel when given the choice. Cenex is clearly a leader in the marketplace and is acutely in tune with what their customers want and need. I am impressed by all that Cenex is doing for our consumers and our country. They are empowering consumers with the ability to improve our environment and increase our nation’s energy and national security, all while saving money at the pump.”

Currently, E15 is available at more than 90 stations. The locations are spread between 14 states including: Wis., S.D., Ohio, Neb., N.D., N.C., Mo., Minn., Miss., Kan., Ind., Ill., Iowa and Ariz.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) has authorized a pair of direct loans to two wind power projects in Peru for the export of wind turbines manufactured in Hutchinson, Kansas, and Fort Madison, Iowa, by Siemens Energy Inc. The financing, almost $65 million in total, represents Ex-Im Bank’s first renewable-energy transactions in Peru and will support approximately 800 U.S. jobs in Kansas and Iowa, according to bank estimates derived from Departments of Commerce and Labor data and methodology. Additionally, 20 percent of each transaction should provide indirect support to small-business exporters.
  • Finavera Wind Energy Inc. has announced they have signed an agreement to acquire 100% of the equity of Solar Alliance of America, Inc., a corporation under the laws of California in a transaction valued at $6 million USD. Under the terms of the agreement, Finavera will acquire Solar Alliance for $4 million USD in cash and $2 million USD in stock, based on the volume weighted average 20-day trading price of Finavera following the closing of the transaction, with a floor price of not less than $0.21 per share. This represents a premium of approximately 45% over the Company’s previous closing price.
  • Investment into the UK’s distributed power generation market, which comprises wind, solar Photovoltaic (PV) and combined heat and power installed capacity, will witness a significant decline from almost $2.5 billion in 2013 to $939 million by 2019, says research and consulting firm GlobalData. “Policy Amendments Leave the UK Distributed Power Generation Market in Disarray,” states that investment, which will fluctuate annually between 2013 and 2015, will begin declining from 2016 until the end of the forecast period, as a result of various anticipated policy amendments.
  • Solar Microgrid of St. Louis was recently selected to lead the solar contractor for the City of Chicago’s solar program – called “Solar Chicago” – that Enables homeowners in the Chicago area to purchase solar at the group-discounted rate. The Chicago program is half over, and is expected to double the original target of 750 registrants.

Report: US & EU Move To Relax Biofuel Targets

According to a new report from GlobalData, the U.S. and EU are considering relaxing targets on biofuels causing concerns around the growth of the industry and the role of biofuels in global renewable energy targets. The U.S. is considering reducing its biofuels target for 2014 and from 18.2 billion to 15.2 billion gallons while the EU has lowered its ceiling on food-based biofuels used in the transportation fuel mix from 10 percent to 7 percent.

Ethanol in IllinoisThe Third Quarter 2013 Regulatory Outlook finds that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering reducing 3 billion gallons from the 2014 renewable volume obligations, (the EPA has submitted its final rule to the Office of Management and Budget but until approved, the industry does not know the final volume requirements) which would mark the first reduction to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) since its implementation in 2007.

Carmine Rositano, GlobalData’s Managing Analyst covering Downstream Oil & Gas, said, “While gasoline demand has declined over the past seven years, the approved annual use of ethanol in gasoline has not been adjusted to reflect this change, as increasing amounts of biofuels have been mandated to be blended into petroleum products each year through to 2020. The refining industry has warned that increasing ethanol use in gasoline would exceed the 10% mix that dominates car engine designs and the gasoline fueling infrastructure, so revising the mandated amounts for biofuels in the energy mix would make economic sense.”

While U.S. biofuels targets are expected to be cut to mirror the decrease in gasoline demand, the EU has a different reason for its own target adjustments.

Rositano explained, “The EU’s new 7% biofuels ceiling comes in response to claims that using biofuels made from food crops increases inflation on food costs. As the EU is still aiming to achieve 10% of transportation fuels made from renewable energy sources by 2020, the gap between this target and the 7% ceiling of food-based biofuels indicates a reliance on next generation biofuels made from algae, waste and other materials.”

Matthew Jurecky, GlobalData’s Head of Oil & Gas Research, added, “It’s normal for agencies to review challenged policy. Ongoing analysis on the actual reduction of greenhouse gases, inclusive of the entire value chain, the impact they’ve had on food crops and prices, and the simple economics associated with producing them, underlies the regulatory shift. Biofuels will, however, remain a part of meeting mandated renewable energy and emissions targets, but other industries and policies, such as more stringent efficiency standards, will also form a part.”

Renovagen Uses Crowdcube to Raise Funds

UK company Renovagen has used the crowd funding website Crowdcube to raise £263,000 with the support of 160 investors. The fundraising campaign was 76 per cent oversubscribed and coincides with the successful completion of a 6kW prototype version of Renovagen’s patented “Roll-Array” transportable solar power system that enables large rollable solar arrays to be conveniently and quickly deployed from small containers.

Renovagen logoRenovagen has created a transportable solar power system that they say has 10 times the power capacity of competing photovoltaic systems and can be deployed in just a few minutes. The company said this technology is of strong interest to military, disaster relief and Mining customers where the cost of energy from diesel generators in remote locations is often excessive due to the extremely high costs of transporting diesel fuel while alternative solar systems are slow and expensive to move or under-powered. Renovagen’s technology has the potential to pack 100kW arrays into 20ft ISO containers, with multiple containerised systems deployable in parallel to create multi-megawatt power plants.

“This is an extremely exciting time for Renovagen, having achieved a huge amount of progress in developing the technology this year, we finally have a 6kW system live-running and meeting all our performance expectations,” said John Hingley, Founder and CEO. “This product has huge potential for reducing carbon emissions and local pollution caused by diesel generators in remote and sensitive environments – whilst saving our customers money and even saving lives in some Disaster Relief and Military situations. We’re extremely pleased to have secured the funding to move to the next stage in our development, including pilot deployments and market launch, and would like to thank the 160 investors who supported us through Crowdcube”.

Early test results of the prototype have demonstrated power output and mechanical performance that meets design targets, according to Renovagen. The company now plans further field testing of the prototype and continued development in order to launch the product during 2015. The company intends to implement a number of pilot projects in late 2014/early 2015 in order to further proof the technology and its efficacy.

Advanced Biofuels Industry Comments on 2014 RFS

The advanced biofuels community is responding this week to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) submission of the final 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) where it will be reviewed. Although the rule is not public, groups are speculating on what the final rule entails with hope still that advanced biofuels will not see a reversal in volumes.

“A little less than a year ago, press leaks first suggested that EPA might reduce the 2014 renewable fuel standard (RFS) for advanced biofuels to as little as 2.2 billion gallons, which is substantially lower than current production,” said Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA) President Michael McAdams when hearing the rule had been sent to OMB.

“Since that time, ABFA members and our many allies have clearly demonstrated that such reductions would fall disproportionately on advanced biofuels and represent a significant reversal of the Obama administration’s previous support for our industry. We hope the final rule will be a major improvement and encourage the White House to set RFS volume obligations at levels that are consistent with our industry’s current and projected production capacity for advanced and cellulosic biofuels,” McAdams added.

Joe Jobe NBBNational Biodiesel Board (NBB) CEO Joe Jobe is hoping to see an increase in biodiesel from the proposal released last year. Joe explained the the proposed rule would cap out biodiesel and cause a dramatic reduction in production.

“This is a cornerstone energy policy that has demonstrated that it works,” said Jobe. “Last year we were able to demonstrate that the program works. We grew from a little over 1 billion gallon in 2012 to just 2 billion gallons in 2013.” Jobe continued by stressing this allowed for investment and growth – all elements of a successful energy policy.

Jobe noted that biodiesel has allowed the advanced biofuel category to be met every year. While OMB has 90 days to review the rule, Jobe hope it will go faster.

Interview with Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board

Algae Systems Converts Algae to Biofuels, Clean Water

Algae Systems has completed a biofuel production demonstration project in conjunction with Japan’s IHI Corporation. The demonstration plant is located in Daphne, Alabama and the process combines wastewater with algae to produce the world’s first energy-generating wastewater treatment process, using carbon-negative technologies. This process will yield both biofuel and drinking water.

Algae Systems Daphne projectMatthew C. Atwood, president and CEO of Algae Systems explains that while algae is a component in a number of worldwide experimental production strategies, their approach differs by using a system that can apply a variety of algae types to production, adding value by treating wastewater, and producing a drop-in fuel solution using hydrothermal liquefaction to produce fuels that do not need to be blended.

“This is the first demonstration of producing clean water and biofuel from wastewater and algae. We have demonstrated that we can treat wastewater at a low-cost while beating the current price of fuel,” said Atwood.

The project approach takes local strains of algae to increase production rates and optimize wastewater treatment opportunities and focuses on a systems approach. Floating membrane photobioreactors accept wastewater from a local community municipal wastewater utility, drawing nutrients from the wastewater to Algae Systems Daphne project2promote algae growth. The algae consume nutrients in the wastewater, reducing the cost of treating wastewater. In this approach, municipal wastewater becomes an asset to produce energy, rather than a commodity to be expensively processed. Photosynthesis creates the chemical reactions that can power our future.

Atwood said the use of offshore photobioreactors means that a valuable land footprint would not be required to deploy the system commercially, and the motion of waves and wind provides ideal temperature and mixing controls as well as a reduction of operating costs. From an environmental perspective, ecological dead zones can also be eliminated.

Another feature of the demonstration facility, said Atwood, is significant advancements made in the production of fuels from biomass. Algae Systems has demonstrated a new proprietary technology for the conversion of wet algae and other biomass feedstocks into biocrude oil, and has successfully demonstrated upgrading the bio-crude oil into diesel, jet and gasoline.

“Building commercial plants around the world that will enable low-cost wastewater treatment and fuel production,” said Atwood when explaining what success looks like. “Our next steps are to find commercial sites and raise additional financing for the company to expand.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFMaxwell Technologies, Inc. has announced that Win Inertia, an engineering firm specializing in power electronics, energy storage and control and communication systems, is using its ultracapacitors for a stationary wayside braking energy recuperation system at an electric rail system in Cerro Negro, Spain. Win Inertia designed and installed the system under a contract with the Spanish government’s Administrator of Railway Infrastructures (ADIF). In this installation, the system also enables ADIF to store excess energy in a battery bank that supplies an electric vehicle charging station located at the rail station. The facility also seamlessly integrated a photovoltaic generator to supply additional energy if required.
  • Ellomay Capital Ltd., an emerging operator in the renewable energy and energy infrastructure sector, has announced the approval by the Italian parliament and the conversion into law of the Italian decree providing for a decrease in the Feed-in-Tariff guaranteed to existing photovoltaic plants with nominal capacity of more than 200 kW (“Law 116/2014″).
  • Genera Energy has released a new infographic featuring a visual overview of biomass feedstock and guidelines for choosing the best solution for every biomass project. The four-page infographic highlights key supply chain elements and explores which biomass crops are best suited for an application.
  • Washington, D.C. has allocated $200,000 to be used to create a kinetically-powered “Connecticut Avenue Overlook Parklet“. The tech to generate electricity from the footsteps of passersby will come from 100 Pavegen kinetic pavers that are expected to generate an annual 456.25 kilowatts of energy. That energy will be stored and used to power lighting for the 850-square-foot mini-park, which is being designed by ZGF Architects LLP.

Verizon Goes Big With Solar

Verizon is set to become the number one solar producer among U.S. communication companies. They have announced an investment of nearly $40 million to expand their onsite green energy program. This year, the company will install 10.2 MW of new solar power systems at eight Verizon network facilities in five states: California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. This new investment nearly doubles the amount of renewable power generated by six Verizon solar facilities last year. To date, Verizon has invested nearly $140 million in onsite green energy. With the 2014 solar investment announced, Verizon is on target to deploy upward of 25 MW of renewable energy.

“Our investment in onsite green energy is improving the quality of life in the communities we serve by reducing CO2 levels and reducing strain on commercial power grids, while increasing our energy efficiency,” said James Gowen, Verizon’s chief sustainability officer. “By almost doubling the amount of renewable, solar energy we’re using, we are making further progress toward Verizon’s goal of cutting our carbon intensity in half by 2020, in part, by leveraging the proven business case for clean-energy alternatives to the commercial power grid.”

Verizon solar farm Basking Ridge NJWith this announcement, Verizon is on track to become the #1 solar-power producer among all U.S. communications companies, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “Based on its existing solar power capacity and onsite generating systems, combined with its new solar energy expansion plans for 2014, it’s clear that Verizon is on a path to become the solar-power leader in the U.S. telecom industry,” said SEIA president and CEO Rhone Resch. “In fact, we project that Verizon will be among the top 20 of all companies nationwide in terms of the number of solar installations it operates, and one of the top 10 companies in the U.S. based on solar generating capacity.”

Verizon contracted with SunPower Corp. to design and install all of the solar systems. The new equipment, consisting of high-efficiency rooftop, parking-structure and ground-mounted solar photovoltaic systems, will vary from site to site.

“With this milestone investment, Verizon is advancing its position among the handful of corporate leaders demonstrating how American businesses can serve their communities and control energy costs with on-site solar power generation,” said Howard Wenger, SunPower president, business units. “We are very pleased to extend our partnership with Verizon, helping the company lower the long-term cost of energy at more facilities with SunPower’s high performance technology and services.”

Resch added, “This is a significant investment by Verizon, which will provide a boost to the economy, as well as the environment. Long a world leader in telecommunications services, Verizon is quickly becoming a leader in the deployment of green energy, too. When these projects are completed, Verizon will have nearly 16 MW of installed solar capacity, ranking it among the Top 10 companies in the United States. We commend Verizon on its commitment to the environment, and doing what’s best for current and future customers.”

No RFS = Gas Prices Decided by Foreign Chaos

With oil prices on a roller coaster because of the deteriorating situation in the Mideast, Americans United for Change stress that Americans need the EPA to stand by a secure, safe, reliable energy source the U.S. has complete control over: clean-burning, homegrown renewable fuels. Preserving the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and cheaper choices at the pump for American consumers means more stability in gas prices, even in times of instability.

The turmoil in the Middle East is continuing causing volatility in gas prices. And with Labor Day around the corner, gas prices are expected to jump just in time for drivers to hit the roads. One solution to keep gas prices lower? Ethanol. As Jeremy Funk, communications director for Americans United for Change points out, the RFS would ensure ethanol is still available for consumers to choose at the pump.

Americans United for Change logoYet again, The U.S. Environmental Agency (EPA) has just announced the final biofuel volumes of the RFS for 2014 and it seems unlikely the EPA will announced its proposed RFS volumes for 2015 by mid-November as required.

“If anything should give the EPA pause before deciding to roll back the Renewable Fuel Standard as they have proposed, it’s the bubbling turmoil in Iraq,” said Funk. “That’s why the nation can’t afford to scale back the RFS now and put all our eggs in Big Oil’s basket.”

Funk explained that the oil industry has spent millions to rig the system against the homegrown competition. Those companies’ efforts — aside from leading to higher gas prices — would move American jobs overseas, reduce air quality, and contribute to climate change. That’s why American farmers, renewable energy leaders, veterans, nonprofit organizations, and others have come together to demand protection for the RFS. And Funk said they want consumers to join the fight for the RFS and demand lower gas prices and choice at the pump.

CEC Commissions Mass Community Solar Project

DCIM100MEDIAClean Energy Collective (CEC) has commissioned a community solar project in Massachusetts. The 1 MW Southeastern Massachusetts Community Solar Array in Rehoboth, Mass. is now open to all ratepayers in the NGRID territory. An event was held to mark the occasion and attendees heard from Jeffrey Ritter, Town Administrator for the Town of Rehoboth; Meg Lusardi, Acting Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources; Robert Terravecchia, CEO Weymouth Bank; and Paul Spencer, Founder and CEO of Clean Energy Collective.

“I am excited to congratulate NGRID and our Massachusetts team on bringing this project to fruition,” said Clean Energy Collective’s CEO, Paul Spencer. “Never before has large-scale, economic solar been accessible to so many, including renters and those with shaded properties. We’re proud to have been able to bring this solution to such a solar-progressive state as Massachusetts and look forward to delivering much more.”

According to CEC, their community solar model provides the opportunity for residential and business customers in a participating utility territory to benefit from solar through a shared utility-scale array without having to install a stand-alone system at their home or business. Community solar customers receive many of the same rebates and incentives as residential system owners, and credit for the power produced appears directly on an owners’ monthly utility bills. The array is sited and maintained to operate at peak efficiency, delivering clean, dependable power for decades.

Following the grand opening of the Rehoboth array is a string of new CEC community solar facilities coming online in Massachusetts, including the 997-kW Western Massachusetts Community Solar Array in Hadley, Mass. that will begin serving WMECo ratepayers in September.

Mobile County Public Schools Converts to Propane

The Mobile County Public Schools will be moving their students this fall with 30 propane autogas buses. The school district is supporting the community outreach campaign, “It Starts With Us” and their first step is the converted Blue Bird Propane Visions buses.

“The deployment of our propane autogas bus fleet is a perfect example of our school system’s initiative, It Starts With Us,” said Pat Mitchell, director of transportation for Mobile County Public Schools. “We are providing dependable and clean student transportation while saving taxpayers money so we can put it back in the classroom where it counts most.”

MCPSS Propane Autogas school busOfficials rolled out the new buses during the MCPSS Transportation Department on International Drive. “Propane is cheaper, cleaner and domestically produced,” said Alabama Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, who took a test ride on one of the new propane buses. “This is an environmental initiative I can get behind.”

“We are pleased to be the very first school system in Alabama to enhance transportation through the use of propane buses,” said Superintendent Martha Peek. “We have taken this step because we understand the advantages are increased fuel efficiency, economic and environmental.”

Each bus will displace about 40,000 gallons of diesel and emit 150,000 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide over their lifetime and the fuel costs nearly 50 percent less than per gallon than diesel according to Todd Mouw with ROUSH Cleantech.

Before choosing to fuel with propane autogas, the school district’s transportation department performed a comprehensive evaluation. This process included safety research, cost savings analysis, site visits to school systems that operate buses with propane autogas, and phone interviews with transportation directors.

“The schoolchildren and taxpayers of Mobile benefit from this important decision,” said Dale Wendell, Blue Bird’s chief commercial officer. “The adoption of Blue Bird Propane Vision buses further emphasizes Mobile County Public Schools’ forward-thinking leadership and commitment to reduce fuel and maintenance costs, support a domestically produced fuel, and provide cleaner air for the students and the community.”