5th Anniversary of E15 Waiver

Growth Energy is marking the 5th Anniversary of the Green Jobs Waiver – the waiver that brought the choice of E15 to consumers. The waiver was filed on March 6, 2009 with the Environmental Protection Agency in an effort to get higher ethanol blends approved for commercial use.

E15 sign“We recognized five years ago that increased blends, such as E15 would be necessary to reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and create jobs right here at home all while providing consumers with a choice and savings at the pump,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy about the anniversary. “Additionally, for the biofuels industry to grow, higher blends in the commercial marketplace are necessary to foster development and innovation in next generation fuels.

Five years later, noted Buis, they consider their efforts to be successful even though challenges from Big Oil and special interests continue to arise. “We have faced every possible legal, regulatory and PR hurdle our opponents could throw at us, but our industry and members have been resilient,” said Buis.

Today, E15 can be found in 14 states and each week additional retailers are offering the fuel blend. Buis said retailers are beginning to recognize the economic benefits of offering a “less expensive, home-grown, high performance fuel. All of NASCAR runs on E15 and combined, race car drivers have driven more than 5 million miles on the ethanol blend.

Buis concluded, “E15 is the most tested fuel in our nation’s history. More than six million miles of testing on 86 vehicles without any engine problems or durability issues. One thing is clear; E15 is a safe, reliable fuel that more and more Americans are choosing.”

Documentary: How Ethanol Fuels America

Syngenta has released a new documentary video entitled “Ethanol: Fueling Rural America’s Future – One Community at a Time.” According to the company, the video provides a platform for farmers, ethanol producers and industry advocates to share their passion for an industry critical to the future of agriculture and rural America.

Syngenta developed the video to reinforce the ethanol industry’s positive impact on the U.S. economy and American energy independence. The company says ethanol production is a vital Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 9.57.34 AMcontributor to the national Gross Domestic Product, federal tax revenues, and the creation and support of new jobs across the country.

“As ethanol plants have moved into small towns and established their businesses, they have provided well-paying jobs and stabilized the corn market price,” said Jack Bernens, head of marketing and stakeholder relations for Syngenta. “That income is circulating back through rural communities. With the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) under scrutiny, we wanted to help tell that story.”

Ethanol is also helping consumers. A University of Wisconsin/Iowa State University study found that in 2011 ethanol reduced wholesale gasoline prices by $1.09 per gallon nationally. Looking ahead to the adoption of blends with an ethanol level greater than E10, Growth Energy reports that the more than 170 million cars manufactured since 2001 are currently eligible to use E15, while more than 16 million flex-fuel vehicles are on the roads today.

“This demonstrates that there is a market ready for a less expensive, higher octane, more environmentally friendly alternative fuel,” added David Witherspoon, head of renewable fuels for Syngenta. “We have the vehicles capable of using blends higher than E10, but greater access to stations capable of providing it and the petroleum marketing industry’s support are needed to make that access a reality.”

It Pays to Shop for Ethanol

An informal survey of gasoline retail locations in greater Des Moines, Iowa, revealed that while 87-octane gasoline prices remain relatively uniform across several retail brands, the price a consumer pays for premium gasoline varies greatly depending on whether the retailer blends its premium gasoline with ethanol. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) reports that using premium gasoline blended with E10 (10 percent ethanol) can save up to 25 cents.

IA-pump-photoIRFA says the savings of ethanol are so great that consumers can pay approximately the same price for E10 premium gasoline as they would for 87 octane gasoline with no ethanol.

Here at the IRFA, we support consumer fuel choice, and consumers can save 25 cents per gallon by shopping at retail locations that offer premium blended with 10 percent ethanol,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Fuel blended with 10 percent ethanol is approved for use in all cars, trucks and off-road motors available today, and vehicles that carry a recommendation for premium gasoline use are no different. By simply shopping for ethanol blended premium gasoline, consumers can save a lot of money while supporting Iowa’s economy.”

Speaking of E10, the Iowa Department of Revenue published January data for gasoline use and IRFA said that Iowa motorists saved more than $23 million in January by filling up with E10 – 103 million gallons of E10.

Shaw noted, “Priced at least 23 cents less than its 87-octane no ethanol counterpart, E10 is providing Iowans with huge savings. And those savings add up for both consumers and Iowa’s economy. The use of E10 is keeping at least $23 million in Iowa instead of sending it out of state or out of the country for petroleum. In fact, the true savings is likely more than $30 million for the month. Simply using ethanol is not only saving consumers some of their hard earned money, it’s also cleaning up our air and supporting Iowa jobs.”

According to IRFA, actual savings are even greater than $23 million because the Iowa Department of Revenue data does not account for ethanol blending that occurs outside of pipeline fuel terminals. In addition, while the typical E10 savings in the Des Moines metro area is 23 cents per gallon, E10 is priced at a more than 30-cent discount to E0 in many parts of Iowa.

Growth Energy’s ‘State of the Industry’

Ethanol industry leaders met in Phoenix, Arizona this week to discuss the state of the renewable fuels industry. The event was kicked off by Jeff Broin, co-chair of Growth Energy’s Board of Directors with a “state of the industry” address.

Broin noted the resilience of the industry and outlined how Congress made a promise to America to reduce its dependence on foreign oil, to clean our environment and to create American jobs. He also stressed that the industry “will continue to hold Congress and the Growth_Energy_logo-1Environmental Protection Agency accountable,” and that as an industry, “we will do whatever we can to make sure they keep their promise.” Broin also discussed the importance of “educating Americans on the benefits of homegrown, renewable American ethanol.”

In conclusion, Broin concluded thanked all of Growth Energy’s members who have weathered the challenges in the renewable fuels industry and continue to succeed no matter the challenges, noting that collectively, “we can make ethanol a major player in the liquid fuels industry.”

The keynote address was delivered by Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy and he focused on the critical priorities of the ethanol industry. He outlined how defending the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), and building out the necessary infrastructure for higher blends of ethanol and widespread availability of E15 in the commercial marketplace will be the main priorities of the industry in 2014.

Buis also highlighted the importance of breaking down the so called “blendwall”. He explained that higher blends of renewables should be available to the American consumer, so they have a choice of a high octane, high performance fuel and also a choice of a fuel that supports American jobs, while also saving them money.

Buis also called on both members of Congress and the administration to stop accepting the status quo of fossil fuels and foreign oil. In stressing the importance of scaling the blendwall, Buis said, “President Obama, if you seek to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create jobs here in the US that cannot be outsourced and strengthen the rural economy, and, if you truly want cleaner air, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, a better environment for our children and lower gas prices for American consumers, tear down this blendwall!”

In conclusion, Buis noted that this will not be an easy challenge, and that, “We all know that this is a battle – one over market share, and one that will not be accomplished overnight.”

But Buis reminded members why they are all fighting – “that we are fighting for American farmers, for the resilient men and women who work hard every day to fuel America and feed the world. For vibrant small town communities that have known hard times and are ready for a comeback. We are fighting for our brave troops. For those who fight for us, to ensure that they are never placed in harm’s way again, solely for our energy needs. We are fighting for the energy independence and national security of this great country – we are fighting for the United States of America.”

Novozymes Joins Advanced Ethanol Council

aeclogoNovozymes has become the newest member of the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC). The global company is best known in the biofuels space for its work on first and second generation enzymes used to improve biofuel production, including cellulosic ethanol.

“Novozymes and the Advanced Ethanol Council share a strong focus on facilitating the commercialization and growth of advanced biofuels,” said Adam Monroe, Americas Regional President at Novozymes. “Advanced biofuel plants are commercializing now and we must continue engaging in policy discussions along with the AEC to ensure the long-term stability and success of advanced renewable fuels.”

Novozymes operates the largest enzyme plant dedicated to biofuels in the United States, located in Blair, Nebraska. The $200 million plant specializes in making world-leading enzymes, a key technology component for both the conventional and advanced biofuel markets.

“We are very pleased to be working with Novozymes,” said Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the AEC. “The cellulosic biofuels industry is breaking through at commercial scale and it is absolutely critical that the industry speak with one voice and stay together when it comes to how we engage on policy and regulatory matters. Novozymes is highly engaged on both the business and political fronts, and we look forward to working with them on strategies that will put the industry in a position to succeed in 2014 and beyond.”

The Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) represents worldwide leaders in the effort to develop and commercialize the next generation of ethanol fuels, ranging from cellulosic ethanol made from dedicated energy crops, forest residues and agricultural waste to advanced ethanol made from municipal solid waste, algae and other feedstocks.

RFS is Revitalizing Rural Iowa

The United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released its Preliminary 2012 Farm Census data and according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), it’s easy to see that increased in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) have revitalized rural Iowa.

Iowa-FarmThe USDA data shows that since the increase in the RFS in 2007, Iowa has experienced nearly a 51 percent increase in the value of Iowa farm products, with a more than 67.7 percent increase in crop values and a more than 33.5 percent increase in livestock values. These value increases took place during a time when the amount of land being farmed in Iowa actually dropped 132,193 acres to 30.6 million acres.

“It’s no coincidence the increases in the RFS since 2007 have coincided with the most impressive run of rural prosperity in Iowa history,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Throughout history, farmers have been so innovative and productive they usually produce themselves out of profitability. This time, the growth in renewable fuels provided new markets for increased production, resulting in the positive economic results detailed by the USDA. However, if the Obama Administration’s proposal to slash the RFS is allowed to move forward, we could see a complete reversal in this rural revitalization.”

Iowa was not the only state to benefit from the growth in renewable fuels. Nationally, farm product values increased 32.8 percent from 2007 to 2012, with crop values increasing 47.9 percent and livestock values increasing 18.7 percent. Meanwhile, U.S. land devoted to farming declined by nearly 7.5 million acres.

Advanced Ethanol Here at Last

nec14-cellulosic-panelDuring the National Ethanol Conference, representatives of four leading companies talked about how advanced ethanol is here at last. Moderated by Advanced Ethanol Council Executive Director Brooke Coleman, the panelists included Chris Standlee with Abengoa; Kenneth Hill with DuPont Cellulosic Ethanol; Delayne Johnson, CEO of Quad County Corn Processors; and Steve Hartig, Licensing General Manager for POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels, LLC.

nec14-standlee-2

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am thrilled to finally be able to say that this is the pivotal year for second generation ethanol for the United States and perhaps in the world,” said Chris Standlee with Abengoa Bioenergy, who talked about the upcoming launch of their 25 million gallon/year cellulosic ethanol facility in Hugoton, Kansas. The company has invested nearly 10 years into developing its own proprietary second-gen technology and the biorefinery in Kansas that will go online in 2014 is the fruition of this commitment. Learn more about Abengoa’s cellulosic refinery here: Remarks by Chris Standlee, Abengoa

Kenneth Hill with DuPontKenneth Hill with DuPont noted that his company is focused on bridging the gap between agriculture and advanced materials. This includes enzymes and cellulosic biofuels. DuPont is working with companies around the world to develop cellulosic biofuels, yet the project that may have the most attention is currently under construction in Nevada, Iowa. Learn about this project and others here: Remarks by Kenneth Hill, DuPont

Delayne Johnson Quad County Corn ProcessorsDelayne Johnson said that since Quad County Corn Processors went into production in 2002 they have continuously been looking for niche ways to add value to a kernel of corn. With the aid of R&D expert Travis Brotherson, five years ago he developed a now patented cellulosic process. The technology has added 6 percent to their yield, they are getting 2 1/2 times more corn oil than they had been getting, and are able to produce a higher protein feed product (DDG) than they had in the past. Quad County is currently in the process of building the technology out at full-scale and the cellulosic portion of their biorefinery is expected to begin production this summer. Learn more about Quad County’s cellulosic technology here: Remarks by Delayne Johnson, Quad Council Corn Processors

Steve Hartig with Poet DSMFor many years Poet has been talking about the future of cellulosic ethanol using corn residue – corn stover, corn cobs, etc. According to Steve Hartig, With major strides over the past few years and a key strategic partnership with DSM, Project Liberty is set to go into production later this summer. Project Liberty is co-located with a first generation ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa. Once in production, co-location will be their key strategy for several reasons included excess energy, infrastructure and personnel. Learn about Poet-DSM’s take on the advanced biofuels here: Remarks by Steve Hartig, POET-DSM

2014 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC

ACE Preparing for Biofuels Beltway March

Make Washington keep their word was a common mantra during the National Ethanol Conference last week. American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Executive Vice President Brian Jennings is going to help them do just that. Each March, ACE brings nearly 100 ethanol advocates to the Hill to meet with Legislative and key stakeholders to tell their stories about the benefits of ethanol. This year’s Biofuels Beltway March is just around the corner on March 26-27, 2014 in Washington, D.C.

nec14-jenningsThis year, Jennings said they are doing something a bit different. They are asking retailers from different states who have successfully added the infrastructure or the equipment they need to sell E15, E85 or both, to join them. “So they will deliver the message straight from their own experiences that higher blends work. The RFS [Renewable Fuel Standard] works. We want to see you continue to fulfill what the program was intended to do,” said Jennings.

During the NEC conference, a spokesperson from Marathon said E85 won’t work and E15 is a nonstarter. When asked to respond to those comments, Jennings answered, “We added over 200 E85 sites in 2013 and it was based on price. So he is simply not correct when it come to E85. Retailers are looking at it and understanding better today than they ever have how to price E85 relative to straight gas or relative to E10 so the consumer keeps coming back and makes the choice that it works well in my FFV [flex fuel vehicle].”

In terms of E15, Jennings said he was referring to liability. But there are things ACE is working on along with others to erase liability concerns whether those are real or perceive. The other half of the battle and helping them understand the blending economics.

“I was disappointed to hear what the gentleman from Marathon say what he did about higher blends, but what’s going on on the ground, in the states defies the message he was trying to deliver about E85 and E15,” added Jennings.

Listen to Cindy’s interview with Brian Jennings: Interview with Brian Jennings, ACE

2014 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC

Iowa E85 Sales Set Record in 2013

Iowans have purchased a record number of gallons of E85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gas) in 2013. According to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), total E85 sales in 2013 reached 10,854,117 gallons, up nearly 20 percent from 2012 and an increase of more than 130,000 gallons from the previous record in 2011. The sales figures were reported by the Iowa Department of Revenue. manning_ia_pumpE85 sales in Iowa finished strong in 2013 setting a fourth quarter record at 2,784,326 gallons, up more than 67 percent from fourth quarter 2012 and an increase of more than 700,000 gallons from the previous fourth quarter record in 2010.

To learn more about Iowans choice of ethanol blends, I spoke this afternoon with Grant Menke, policy director for IRFA. My first question: how much more can we do with E85 and higher blends of ethanol in Iowa. “We can do a whole lot more,” answered Menke. Iowa is a 1.5 billion to 1.6 billion gallon gasoline market and the state is at 11 million gallons for E85. “So there is clearly a lot of growth that needs to take place there. With a strong growing RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard) we really think this can happen.”

Menke noted that consumers who purchased E85 last year did so at very competitive prices. He said he remembers buying E85 during the third quarter at $1.10 per gallon less than a gallon of E10. He said ethanol is a homegrown fuel, good for the economy, good for farmers, and good for the environment. It’s a win-win-win. “If we can continue to price this fuel well, which the RFS allows us to do, we’re going to continue to break records in the future,” stressed Menke.

I asked Menke why it was so important to not only keep the RFS in tact, but moving forward. He noted that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) comment period for the 2014 RFS has been completed and the ball is now in the EPA and White House’s court. They have heard from tens of thousands of RFA supporters as to why a reduction in the RFS would be devastating to this industry: first generation, biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol. “If we want to continue to diversify our fuel supply with cleaner, homegrown, renewable fuels, we need a strong growing RFS,” added Menke.

IRFA aids retailers who want to offer consumers more choices at the pump, and noted that retailers who diversify their fuel offering (biodiesel, higher blends of ethanol) can have financial success in this space. Menke said they are hoping to break records in 2014.

Listen to my interview with Grant Menke here: Iowa E85 Sales Set Record in 2013

Abengoa Honored With RFA Award

nec14-gersonTo recognize the advancement of cellulosic ethanol in a pivotal year, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen presented the “RFA 2014 Industry Award” to Gerson Santos-Leon, the executive vice president of Abengoa Bioenergy New Technologies.

The award was given by RFA at the National Ethanol Conference this week in Orlando “in gratitude for the sustained vision, innovation, and devotion to making cellulosic ethanol a commercial success.”

“Gerson is truly one of the great pioneers in the cellulosic ethanol industry. His work at the Department of Energy two decades ago helped provide the scientific foundation many companies are relying upon today to move advanced biofuel technologies forward.” said Dinneen. “And his continued leadership over the past 10 years in bringing cellulosic ethanol to commercial success at Abengoa is a testament to his grit, his genius and his creativity.” 2014 RFS Industry Award

nec14-standleeOn Tuesday at the conference, Abengoa Bioenergy executive vice president Christopher Standlee participated in a panel on advanced ethanol plants coming on line this year, including their facility in Hugoton, Kansas. “We’re very excited to finally start that up and we’re in the process of that right now,” he said.

I talked with Standlee about the new plant, what the impact of changing the RFS could have on future plans for Abengoa, and mood at the 19th annual National Ethanol Conference. Interview with Chris Standlee, Abengoa

2014 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC

EPA Director Addresses Ethanol Conference

nec14-grundlerThe Director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency addressed the National Ethanol Conference on Wednesday morning on issues related to the Renewable Fuel Standard and EPA’s proposal for the 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO).

Chris Grundler was scheduled to be on a panel at the NEC Tuesday but had a conflict and instead had the stage to himself to talk about how the EPA came up with the proposal that shocked the ethanol industry when it was released last fall. “You deserve to really understand what went into our thinking on that,” he said. “The most disappointing thing I heard in the reporting is that EPA no longer supports the development of biofuels, and I’m hear to tell you that’s wrong.”

“Our overriding goal with this 2014 RVO proposal is to put the RFS in what we call a manageable trajectory while continuing to support the growth of renewable fuels in our transportation supply,” he said. “We have to address some of the practical realities that we see today in the marketplace.”

Grundler stressed that the proposal is just that and it could be changed. He also noted that EPA received over 100,000 written comments during the comment period with 6,000 “unique” comments, and that the hearing held in early December was a record. He added that they do intend to try and meet the goal of finalizing the rule by the end of spring.

A disarmingly un-bureaucratic bureaucrat, Grundler was forthcoming and even funny in his short presentation and afterword even met with reporters to answer questions. Comments by Chris Grundler, EPA

Raw informal press availability audio – Press Avail Chris Grundler, EPA

2014 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC

Dazed & Confused at National Ethanol Conference

Led Zep 2I never got to see Led Zeppelin live but last night I found out what it would have been like when Led Zeppelin 2 performed for the National Ethanol Conference. This band is fantastic. You can see what I mean in the video below (Dazed and Confused).

Playing Jimmy Page on stage is Paul Kamp, founding partner of Leifmark and heads the commercialization efforts for Inbicon Biomass Refinery technology. In other words, he’s directly involved in the ethanol industry. After his performance I got to talk with him about his dual role career.

You can listen to my interview with Paul here: Interview with Paul Kamp, Led Zep 2

There are lots of photos from last night’s event in our photo album:

2014 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC

Live Stream of State of Ethanol Industry Speech

National Ethanol ConferenceHello from the National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, FL. This morning we’ll live stream Bob Dinneen’s, Renewable Fuels Association, annual state of the industry address. Introductions will start at 8am, est., with Bob scheduled at 8:15am. We’re also recording it to post afterward. When you click on the player below it will start with a short commercial before the live feed.

Post Update: You can now watch the recorded video of the live stream below.



Video streaming by Ustream

2014 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC

Biofuels’ Feedstock Growers to Host Ag Secretary

vilsackccThe growers of the two biggest biofuels feedstocks, corn for ethanol and soybeans for biodiesel, will once again host the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for their biggest meeting of the year. For the fifth time in a row, Tom Vilsack will deliver the keynote address to Commodity Classic, the annual convention and trade show for corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum growers. This news releases says Vilsack speaks to an expected crowd of more than 6,000 during the event’s General Session on Friday, Feb. 28, in San Antonio, Texas.

“We are honored to welcome Secretary Vilsack-someone who has been a strong advocate and voice for agriculture-to a conference that is both focused on and led by farmers,” said American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser. “As we face many challenges in this industry throughout this next year- trade agreements and access, conservation and water quality, moving the RFS forward and access to innovative technology-we are excited to hear the secretary speak on these issues and other important topics that impact farmers who grow the nation’s food.”

“Secretary Vilsack has done a lot to support our growers, and to encourage all farmers to speak out and represent their industry at a time when the general public is more removed than ever from the farms that feed them,” said National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre. “We’re looking forward to his visit to Commodity Classic so he can speak with our growers and learn more about our great efforts to rebuild consumer trust in what we do.”

The 19th annual Commodity Classic is Feb. 27-March 1, 2014, along the banks of the famous River Walk at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Tex. Your ZimmComm New Media team will be there, including myself, bringing you the latest from this annual meeting of the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers and National Sorghum Producers, America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show.

Check out the 2014 Commodity Classic website www.commodityclassic.com for additional information.

National Ethanol Conference Kicks Off

National Ethanol ConferenceBreaking news. Ethanol industry gets break from winter. How? By attending the 2014 National Ethanol Conference in Orlando. The Domestic Fuel team is on the scene.

It’s a beautiful sunny day to start things off with some fun activities like the annual golf tournament or an Everglades airboat ride. I took golf pictures while Cindy is checking out the Florida wildlife.

To kick off our coverage of this year’s conference I interviewed the Reverand of Renewable Fuels, Bob Dinneen, Renewable Fuels Association. As you might expect, Bob says they’ll be talking a lot about the EPA and the Renewable Fuels Standard. He likes the mood of attendees and says they’re optimistic. I personally think the sunshine and warm temps are helping!

You can listen to my interview with Bob here: Interview with Bob Dinneen

Here’s where you can find golf tournament photos to download and share: 2014 National Ethanol Conference Golf Tournament Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC