Obama Visits Iowa Wind Turbine Plant, Off to Missouri Ethanol Plant

President Barack Obama visited a wind turbine plant in Iowa today, part of his Midwest tour that will also take him to a northern Missouri ethanol plant (watch for Chuck’s coverage on this Web site and follow him on his Twitter account @AgriBlogger).

The Environment News Service reports
Obama got to see up close some of Siemens Energy’s expanded wind turbine blade factory at Fort Madison, Iowa, during his “Washington to Main Street” tour:

“So you’re manufacturing blades for some of the most advanced wind turbines in the world; each one as tall as Air Force One is long; each is capable of generating enough power for hundreds of homes, just by harnessing the wind,” Obama said. “So what’s going on here, what each of the employees of Siemens are involved with, is helping stake America’s claim on a clean-energy future.”

Siemens, a global company based in Germany, built the wind turbine factory three years ago on the site of a closed tractor-trailer manufacturing business.

Today, the turbine factory employs more than 600 workers, almost two-thirds of whom were previously unemployed, and supports more than 350 other jobs throughout Lee County.

The article goes on to say that the Siemens plant was able to use $3.5 million in Stimulus Bucks to expand the plant.

As I mentioned earlier, Chuck will be following the president tomorrow (Wednesday) as he visits the POET Biorefining ethanol plant in Macon, Missouri.

Ethanol Leaders Take to the Hill

Renewable Fuels Association capitolAmerica’s ethanol industry is taking its message to Capitol Hill this week with a variety of key issues to discuss. Extending key tax incentives for all forms of ethanol, expanding the market through higher ethanol blends, and increasing the production of flexible fuel vehicles are all topics of discussion during the visit. Members of the Renewable Fuels Association are scheduled to meet with Congressional office members from a dozen states including Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Kansas, Illinois, Nebraska, and Iowa.

“No one advocates better on behalf of American ethanol then the men and women directly responsible for its production,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “These industry leaders are at the forefront of creating jobs and economic opportunity in rural America while simultaneously providing part of the solution to our nation’s energy and environmental challenges.”

The meetings come as President Barack Obama is making stops in the Midwest this week, including a visit to a Missouri ethanol plant on Wednesday.

New E85 Stations Open in North Florida

Renewable Fuels Association LogoThanks to the efforts of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Protec Fuel there are now two new E85 fueling stations near I-10 just west of Jacksonville, Florida.

R H Davis Oil Exxon in Macclenny and Citgo in Glen St. Mary will provide more fueling options to drivers of flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) on the interstate as well as commuters traveling to Jacksonville. R H Davis Oil Company utilized Protec Fuel’s turnkey E85 program that included station design, conversion, fuel supply and financial assistance.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the towns of Macclenny and St. Mary,” said R H Davis Oil President, Max Davis. “With the Chevy Dealership down the road ordering more flex-fuel trucks and cars, we have an increasing amount of Flex-Fuel Vehicle drivers, but we never had the fuel option of E85 to offer them. With these new stations, we are able to offer all of our customers a fuel they desire.”

“We are thrilled for the opening of two new E85 fueling locations in northern Florida,” said Protec Fuel CEO Todd Garner. “With more fuel option developments like this, we will be able improve and increase the use of ethanol throughout the country. We look forward to providing fuel for these new locations.”

“These stations are part of an overall strategic plan to increase the number of E85 stations throughout the Southeast in an area full of FFVs,” said RFA’s Director of Market Development, Robert White. To help find E85 stations while on the road, the RFA has developed a fuel locater application for Garmin and TomTom GPS systems. This application will map out fueling stations closest to the user’s location and their chosen destination.

CME Launches Ethanol Co-Product Contract

The trading of futures contracts for the ethanol co-product that is used as livestock feed officially began today on the CME Group electronic trading platform, Globex.

Distillers’ Dried Grain (DDG) futures are a physically delivered contract designed to bring price discovery and transparency to the corn crush market allowing customers to better manage their price risk in the feed, livestock, dairy, biofuels, grains and oilseed industries. In addition, DDG futures can be combined with corn and ethanol futures to establish the Corn-for-Ethanol-Crush margin.

The contract will allow ethanol producers to create a complete risk management profile through hedging both inputs (corn, natural gas) and outputs (ethanol and DDGs); otherwise known as the “corn crush”.

More information is available here.

Obama to Visit Ethanol Plant

VeraSun ObamaThe White House has confirmed that President Obama will be visiting a Missouri ethanol plant this week. It will mark the first time Obama has visited a working ethanol biorefinery, although he was the guest speaker at the ribbon cutting of the now-bankrupt VeraSun plant in Charles City, Iowa when he was a presidential candidate.

poet maconAccording to the White House, Obama will tour POET Biorefining in Macon, Mo. and “talk to workers about what they are experiencing during these tough economic times and share ideas for rebuilding our economy in the long term.” The president is scheduled to “tour a local farm and visit with the family who operates the farm” in Missouri. The visits are part of what the administration calls the president’s “Main Street Tour,” but neither event will be open to the public. Tickets are being distributed for a speech that evening in Quincy, Ill.

More Funds for Verenium Demo Cellulosic Plant

VereniumVerenium Corporation has been awarded an additional $4.9 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to fund ongoing activities at its demonstration-scale cellulosic ethanol facility in Jennings, Louisiana.

“We are very pleased to receive this additional funding from the DOE, particularly given the critical work currently being performed at Jennings to optimize our cellulosic process,” said Carlos A. Riva, President and Chief Executive Officer at Verenium. “I believe this award demonstrates further the DOE’s support for our technology and commitment to developing a cellulosic ethanol supply industry.”

The funding is an extension of the grant previously awarded to Verenium in 2008 under a DOE program supporting the development of demonstration-scale cellulosic ethanol biorefinery plants. The company plans to use the additional funds to support on-going cellulosic technology and process optimization at the Louisiana facility.

ZeaChem Moves Closer to Cellulosic Ethanol

ZeachemJust in time for Earth Day last week, Colorado-based ZeaChem announced it had successfully produced commercial-grade ethyl acetate, a commercial grade “green chemical,” from woody biomass instead of oil. The ethyl acetate can either be sold to chemical manufacturers or converted into ethanol through hydrogenation.

“These results demonstrate ZeaChem’s ability to produce another valuable bio-based intermediate chemical on the road toward cellulosic ethanol production,” said Jim Imbler, president and chief executive officer of ZeaChem.

ZeaChem is now testing the downstream applications including hydrogenation, which is the final step in making cellulosic ethanol. The company intends to break ground on a demonstration plant in Boardman, Ore. in the near future, but has already begun construction on the equipment at their pilot plant in Hazen, Colo.

North Dakota Promotes Ethanol with Check-Off Funds

According to Agweek, North Dakota’s Gov. John Hoeven along with the North Dakota Ethanol Council have announced the establishment of a new program that will fund North Dakota Ethanol Council’s marketing activities by dedicating a share of the industry’s production profits to promotion of ethanol. The check-off program will dedicate 3/100ths of one cent per gallon of ethanol produced and sold to these efforts.

“North Dakota’s agricultural economy and rural communities have directly benefited from the growth of the ethanol industry in our state,” Hoeven said. “Ethanol creates jobs and boosts income for our farmers.”

The North Dakota Ethanol Council includes representatives from all of the state’s major ethanol producers, including ADM Corn Processing, Walhalla; Blue Flint Ethanol, Underwood; Hankinson Renewable Energy, Hankinson; Red Trail Energy, LLC, Richardton; and Tharaldson Ethanol Plant, Casselton.

“As an industry, we are excited to have the Council established and staff hired,” says Jeff Zueger, NDEC chairman and Blue Flint Ethanol general manager. “These steps allow us to move forward with a coordinated effort to expand the ethanol industry in North Dakota.”

DF Cast: Using America’s Airwaves for America’s Fuel

America’s ethanol producers have launched a new effort to educate the public about America’s fuel: ethanol.

CEO of Growth Energy Tom Buis recently was joined by Gen. Wesley Clark, co-chair of Growth, and former Iowa Congressman Jim Nussle, an advisor for Growth, in an announcement launching a $2.5 million TV advertising campaign on major cable television networks, including Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, and CNN, that seeks to get the American public up-to-speed on ethanol, featuring the green facts of the fuel and dispelling the rumors around it.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, you’ll hear some of that news conference and the arguments that should lay to rest any misconceptions about ethanol. Just click on the player below.

You can also subscribe to the DomesticFuel Cast here.

Nebraska Holds FFV Awareness Campaign

Tomorrow will kick of the National Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV) Awareness Campaign across the state of Nebraska. The educational campaign is a joint project of the Clean Fuels Fuondation, the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, the Nebraska Ethanol Board, and others who support the utilization of E85 compatible vehicles.

As reported in a press release from the Clean Fuels Foundation, Todd Sneller, Administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, said “We are pleased to combine our ongoing efforts here in Nebraska with the nationwide program of the FFV Awareness Campaign. High ethanol blends like E85 can open up new markets for ethanol but we need to make sure drivers know they can use these fuels and where they can purchase them.” Sneller said several national surveys indicate that as many as 90% of the owners of FFVs either are not aware their vehicles have this capability or have never used ethanol blends. “The FFV campaign is about consumer awareness and driver education. We are going to begin with the drivers of the 87,000 FFVs on the roads of Nebraska immediately. There is no better time to start this campaign than on Earth Day.”

New state road signs will indicate if a station has E85 available and information on E85 and FFVs will be available at rest stops along Nebraska highways.

Douglas A. Durante, Director of the Clean Fuels Foundation, said the campaign is critical if the US is to achieve the benefits of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) that is current law. “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated the RFS can reduce pollution, increase farm income, lower fuel costs to consumers, and provide a host of other benefits, but only if we can actually use the fuel the program requires. Once we maximize the use of low level blends in conventional vehicles we must turn to FFVs.”

The National FFV Awareness Campaign is also promoting the use of higher ethanol blends in Florida and other states.

House Ag Chair Expects 15 Percent Ethanol by August

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) expects the Environmental Protection Agency to approve 15 percent ethanol blends for regular gasoline by August.

According to a story from Hoosier Ag Today, Peterson said in an interview that it is taking a longer time to get approval than he thinks is necessary. “Now, we’re thinking we might get a decision in August. I think we’re going to get a positive decision, everything I can tell,” he said.

Peterson said he discussed the issue with one of the major car companies last week. “They don’t see too many problems with E-15. They do have more problems when you start getting to E-20 and E-25,” he said.

The chairman does expect some pump labeling requirements if EPA approves E-15, including warnings for older vehicles and small engines, but says a favorable decision will be “very significant” for the future of biofuels.

Senate Bill Would Extend Ethanol Tax Incentives

A bill has been introduced in the Senate to extend tax incentives for ethanol set to expire at the end of this year.

Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Kent Conrad (D-ND) introduced the bipartisan GREEN Jobs Act of 2010 that extends through 2015 the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC), the offsetting tariff on foreign ethanol, the Small Producers Tax Credit, and the Cellulosic Ethanol Producer Tax Credit.

Grassley said the lapse of the separate tax credit for biodiesel, which expired at the end of 2009, has cost 29,000 clean-energy jobs and put 23,000 more at risk. “We can’t risk a repeat performance with ethanol, where 112,000 jobs are at stake.” Of the ethanol tariff, Grassley said, “the United States already provides generous duty-free access to imported ethanol under the Caribbean Basin Initiative, but the CBI cap has never once been fulfilled. In fact, last year, only 25 percent of it was even used by Brazil and other countries.”

Conrad“Our country is in serious danger because of skyrocketing energy costs,” said Sen. Conrad. “This growing crisis demands urgent action. We must be committed to coming together in a bipartisan way to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, while aggressively pursuing alternative sources of energy such as biofuels. Extending these tax credits is a step in the right direction.”

Growth EnergyThe ethanol industry praised the Senate action. “Extending these measures will ensure job growth and economic development across the entire country—all while reducing our dependence on foreign oil and cleaning our skies,” Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, said. “If we let the tariff and VEETC expire, it would drain both hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars right out of our economy.”

Renewable Fuels Association Logo“Tax incentives aiding the expansion of America’s ethanol industry are sound public policies by any economic, environmental or energy measure,” said Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen. “Domestic ethanol use is lowering the price of gasoline, reducing imports of foreign oil, and helping stabilize and reinvigorate rural economies all across the country.”

ACE“The American people directly benefit from ethanol through the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs and by saving money on a clean, renewable product at the pump,” said American Coalition for Ethanol Executive Vice President Brian Jennings. “If it is a priority to save these high-skill, high-wage jobs in the U.S. and provide consumers with affordable fuel, it is imperative that these ethanol tax credits are renewed this year, and we are committed to working with Congressional leaders to see that happen.”

The Senate bill mirrors bipartisan legislation that was introduced in the House in March by Reps. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., and John Shimkus, R-Ill.

Ethanol Report on Scaling the Blend Wall

In this edition of “The Ethanol Report,” Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Director of Market Development Robert White talks about what RFA is doing to help ethanol scale the rapidly approaching blend wall. He discusses the BYO Ethanol program to get blender pumps installed, encouraging EPA to grant a waiver to allow up to 15 percent ethanol in regular gasoline, and reaching out to consumers to increase consumption of ethanol blends. Robert also talks about how RFA is up for a couple of national awards this week from the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) for their 2009 marketing campaigns.

Ethanol Report PodcastRFA won regional NAMA awards for their Sturgis Motorcycle Rally t-shirt design, the Flex-Fuel Challenge website, and the BYO Ethanol campaign ad. They will find out Wednesday at the Best of NAMA awards in Kansas City if any of them received national recognition.

You can subscribe to this twice monthly podcast by following this link.

Listen to or download the podcast here:

Corn Oil from Ethanol Plant to Feed Biodiesel Refinery

Mansfield Oil Company has acquired East Fork Biodiesel of Algona, Iowa … a 60-million-gallon-a-year refinery that will get its feedstock of corn oil from Mansdfield’s network of C&N Companies ethanol plants in the Midwest.

This company press release
says this will give East Fork a cheap source of biodiesel feedstock while providing a market for those ethanol plants’ corn oil:

”East Fork fits in our network very well in terms of offering our ethanol plants a new local market for a corn oil that provides higher value than simply selling the oil contained in the DDGS into the feed markets. East Fork will have ready access to our major rail logistics hubs in Iowa and provide a reliable supply of biodiesel for our customer base of obligated parties who need to meet new biodiesel requirements under RFS2,”said Jon Bjornstad, President of C&N.

Chris Daniel, General Manager for East Fork stated, “We are very pleased to have selected C&N. Their transparent approach gives us the ability to manage and forecast our costs and margins, and their access to a nationwide market of refiners and blenders in every region of the country gives us great confidence in their ability to secure us the best customers for our product today.”

More information is available on Mansfield’s Web site.

Pickens Encourages Investment in American Energy

“When do we stop investing in OPEC and start investing in America?”

pickensThat’s the question that oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens asked at a House Ways and Means committee hearing Wednesday on “Energy Tax Incentives Driving the Green Job Economy.” Pickens told the panel that he’s for “anything that’s American” when it comes to energy -including wind, coal, solar, hydro, nuclear, geo-thermal, ethanol, propane, or natural gas.

The straight-talking Texan and chairman of BP Capital Management addressed those who discourage tax incentives for renewable energy on the basis of letting the free market work. “If you think OPEC is a free market, you’re a sap,” he said.

Pushing natural gas as an alternative, Pickens said that skeptics say there is no natural gas fueling infrastructure. “If you create the market, the private sector will build it,” he said. “Can you imagine what would have happened if we had told Henry Ford, forget about building the Model T, there’s no filling stations?”

Pickens strongly stressed the need for America to develop an energy plan now. “I’m running out of time, I’m 82 years old next month, and I’ve got to get an energy plan fixed for America because we cannot leave this to generations in the future,” noting his 13 children and grandchildren.

Pickens’ whole opening statement is well worth watching here on the Ways and Means Committee website.