WI Governor Proposes Energy Independence Plan

doyle.jpgWisconsin’s governor is proposing an aggressive plan to make his state a leader in renewable energy.

From the text of Gov. Jim Doyle’s speech, he has called for lawmakers to approve his strategy to increase his state’s homegrown power through the Wisconsin Energy Independence Fund:

Over the next 10 years Wisconsin will invest $150 million to help our businesses, our farmers, our foresters, and our manufacturers produce and promote renewable energy.

Our strong manufacturing base and rich agricultural industries, along with the wealth of resources in our vast northern forests and world-leading research universities, position Wisconsin to become the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy.

From manufacturing wind turbines and solar panels to retro-fitting fuel pumps and exploring the latest clean technologies, we will seize green opportunities and create good jobs for our citizens.

But we won’t stop there.

Tonight we’ll launch a new campaign to increase the availability of renewable fuel by 1 billion gallons. First we’ll provide new tax credits for biodiesel fuel producers and add 400 new renewable fuel pumps to our roads. Second let’s pass a renewable fuel standard sponsored by Senator Kreitlow and Representative Suder to require oil companies to provide renewable fuel for our consumers.

Doyle pointed out that ethanol production in Wisconsin has gone from none to half a billion gallons a year since he took office. He says this country needs to depend more on the Midwest… and less on the Mideast.

MO Governor Makes Surprise Announcement

Missouri’s youngest governor has decided not to run for a second term, saying he has accomplished all the goals he had when he took office in 2005. Among those goals was a ten percent ethanol mandate for gasoline, which took effect this month.

Matt BluntBlunt recently announced proposals for $2 million in tax incentives for retailers who install E-85 ethanol pumps and a statewide five percent biodiesel standard.

“Governor Blunt has been as progressive as any public official in the nation on renewable fuels policy,” said Missouri Soybean Association Executive Director Dale Ludwig. “This year, he became the first governor in the country to publicly support a statewide five percent biodiesel standard. He has also shown great leadership by fully funding the biodiesel incentive fund, which helps place biodiesel producers on a level playing field with petroleum companies that receive federal tax incentives.”

The 37-year-old governor’s announcement stunned the state of Missouri since he had already been collecting campaign contributions and even running commercials. Blunt says he has spent 20 years in government service, ten in the Navy and ten in public office, and he wants to spend more time with his wife and young son who was born about the same time he became governor.

Wonder if this means his brother Andy can now keep his shares in the Show Me Ethanol plant without a conflict of interest? (See yesterday’s post on that story)

SD Biodiesel Tax Break Moves Forward

A plan to cut state fuel taxes for biodiesel is moving forward in South Dakota’s legislature.

rounds.jpgThis story from Forbes says the state Senate’s State Affairs Committee voted unanimously to move Governor Mike Rounds’ plan to the full Senate:

The bill would cut the 22-cent-a-gallon tax on diesel to 20 cents for diesel fuel that contains at least a 5 percent blend made from soybeans or other organic material.

The 2-cent-a-gallon tax break would be the same as that given to ethanol, which is a gasoline blend generally made from corn.

The tax break would not start until biodiesel facilities in South Dakota reach a capacity of 20 million gallons a year and produce at least 10 million gallons a year. It would end when production reaches about 20 percent of diesel fuel sold, state Agriculture Secretary Bill Even said.

If passed, the bill would encourage the development of soybean-based biodiesel plants in South Dakota. The state is home to just one small facility now.

Show Me Conflict

Too many political bedfellows are spoiling the chances of a Missouri ethanol plant getting some government financing incentives.

Show Me Ethanol of Richmond, Missouri is scheduled to open this spring, backed by over 700 investors including a congressman’s wife, the governor’s brother and a state legislator. The plant was approved to receive a low-interest loan rate backed by the state, but “no incentives can be given if the company has even a single investor who is a lawmaker, statewide elected official, state department director or a parent, sibling, spouse or child of any of those officials,” according to an AP story.

Blunt BrotherAmong the investors is Andy Blunt, pictured in the AP photo with his brother Gov. Matt Blunt. So far, he is holding on to his shares as plant officials try to negotiate a compromise with State Treasurer Sarah Steelman. State Rep. John Quinn of Chillicothe also owns shares in the plant and he believes the treasurer’s office should relax its policy, perhaps allowing up to 5 percent of investors to have political connections.

Read the Associated Press report here.

Florida Awards Biofuels Grants

Twelve grants totaling $25 million were awarded today by Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson as part of the state’s “Farm to Fuel” initiative.

“We believe that awards such as these are critical in triggering the development of a renewable energy industry in Florida,” Bronson said. “With the backing of and an investment from the state, we’re hopeful that these projects will yield positive results and serve as a catalyst for major commercial investment in this industry.”

FL Farm to FuelThe winners of this year’s “Farm to Fuel” grants are:

Gulf Coast Energy of Walton LLC

Awarded $7 million, in a commercial project grant for the construction and operation of both an ethanol and biodiesel plant in a $62 million project in Mossy Head, Florida

U.S. Envirofuels LLC
Awarded $7 million, in a commercial project grant for the construction of a $47 million ethanol production plant in Highlands County.

Liberty Industries
Awarded $4 million, in a commercial project grant for the construction and operation of a $38 million Liberty County facility that will produce ethanol and electricity using primarily forest waste products.

Agri-Source Fuels
Awarded $4 million, in a commercial project grant for the construction of a $21 million biodiesel plant in Pensacola.

University of Florida
Awarded $500,000, in a research and development grant to develop a catalytic chemical reactor system to convert woody biomass to biodiesel.

Southeast Biofuels
Awarded $500,000, in a demonstration grant to build a nearly $6 million pilot plant in Auburndale to produce ethanol from citrus peels.

Sigarca Inc.
Awarded $499,500, in a research and demonstration project involving the construction of a 3,000-square-foot bioenergy plant on the grounds of the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion in Ocala to process horse waste into renewable energy.

University of Central Florida
Awarded $498,000, in a research and development grant to demonstrate the viability and cost effectiveness of technology developed at the university to convert farm and animal waste into renewable energy.

Florida Institute of Technology
Awarded $415,520, in a research and development grant to cultivate and research various strains of Microalgae capable of producing biodiesel.

Applied Research Associates Inc.
Awarded $203,130, in a research and development grant involving converting cellulosic materials such as sugarcane byproducts to fermentable sugars for a more cost-effective way of producing ethanol.

Applied Research Associates Inc.
Awarded $182,832, in a research and development grant to demonstrate a new technology in converting crop oils into biodiesel.

Neptune Industries Inc.

Awarded $158,270, in a research and development project that would create a pilot-scale floating algae production system in quarry lakes in South Florida to produce algae capable of being converted into biodiesel.

Romney’s Stance on Renewables

romney.jpgIt looks like former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney will win the Michigan primary. So, as I have done for other candidates as they have won caucuses and primaries, I’m posting some of the winner’s thoughts on renewable energy.

From the Romney campaign web site:

Invest In Research. Dramatically increase federal spending on research, development, and demonstration projects that hold promise for diversifying our energy supply and increasing our energy efficiency, such as:

* Bringing clean energy technology to market through commercialization of large-scale renewables and advanced nuclear technologies…

GOVERNOR ROMNEY: “This kind of energy independence will also mean pursuing ample domestic sources of energy: more drilling offshore and in ANWR, nuclear power, renewable sources, ethanol, biodiesel, solar, wind, and full exploitation of coal – both solid and liquid.” (Governor Mitt Romney, Remarks At The George Bush Presidential Library Center, 4/10/07)

On the Democratic side, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton won the Michigan primary. However, since Michigan is holding its primary to early, national Democratic Party leaders have decided the delegates won’t count… and so most of the top Dems had their names pulled from the ballot. But just in case you feel like I am favoring the GOP, here’s a link to an earlier post on Clinton’s renewable energy stance.

In the future, I plan to only post the renewable energy stances of new winners… I don’t want us to become repetitive. One thing I will repeat, though, is that it is up to you to do the homework to choose the best person to lead this country, especially when it comes to renewable fuels.

MO Governor Calls for Biodiesel Standard

blunt.jpgMissouri Governor Matt Blunt wants a 5 percent biodiesel standard for his state.

In his State of the State address before the Missouri House of Representatives, Blunt called on lawmakers to approve the standard:

To further grow alternative fuel production, I support a B5 standard for biodiesel sold in our state. Biodiesel from soybeans has proven much more environmentally-friendly and better for air quality than regular diesel. Research has shown that it cuts carbon dioxide and cancer-causing emissions by more than 75 percent. Adopting a B5 standard will reduce particulate matter emissions by 15.4 million pounds and carbon monoxide emissions by 168 million pounds. A B5 standard will improve our air quality and makes sense for Missouri.

mosoy.jpgBlunt’s announcement was welcomed by the Missouri Soybean Association, which pointed out that in 2008, biodiesel production in the state is expected to reach at least 125 million gallons… more than enough to meet the 60 million gallon mark a 5 percent biodiesel mandate would produce. If passed, Missouri would be the first state to pass and implement a B5 standard. Minnesota has a 2 percent mandate already in effect, while Louisiana, Oregon, and Washington are waiting for production targets to be met before implementing their 2 percent biodiesel standards.

On January 1st, Missouri became one of just three states in the country to put in a 10 percent ethanol mandate.

Biomass Advisory Committee Members

USDAEPAU.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Acting Secretary Chuck Conner and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel Bodman today announced the appointment of six new members and the reappointment of seven members to serve on its Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee for a term of three years. The Committee was established by the Biomass Research and Development Act of 2000 to assist USDA and DOE in meeting important national goals for a healthier rural economy and improved national energy security.

Newly appointed members include:

Gil Gutknecht, Co-Chair, Consultant, Rochester, Minn.; Richard Hamilton, CEO, Ceres, Inc.; Jay Levenstein, Deputy Commissioner, Florida Department of Agriculture; Shirley J. Neff, Association of Oil Pipe Lines; Tom Simpson, Railway Supply Institute; Richard Timmons, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.

Reappointed members include:

Bob Dinneen, President, Renewable Fuels Association; Douglas Hawkins, Rohm and Haas Company; Charles Kinoshita, University of Hawaii at Manoa; Eric Larson, Princeton University; James Martin, Omni Tech International; Scott Mason, Director, ConocoPhillips Petroleum Company; Edwin White, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

FAPRI Analyzes Energy Bill

fapri.jpgThe Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri has completed an analysis of the new energy bill, and the results seem to point to some pretty positive results from the legislation.

FAPRI reports the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, signed into law by President Bush on December 19th, will have positive consequences for biofuels in the short and long term. From the report’s summary:

Relative to baseline projections developed in early 2007, the implementation of the selected provisions of EISA would have important implications for biofuel and agricultural markets.

• Under a range of plausible assumptions, the EISA mandates result in more ethanol and biodiesel production than would otherwise occur.

• Higher levels of biofuel production translate into increased use of corn and vegetable oil. This increase in demand results in higher prices for corn, soybeans and most other agricultural commodities.

• Higher crop prices translate into reduced taxpayer costs of government farm programs and higher levels of crop producer income.

• Impacts of higher mandates are very sensitive to the price of petroleum and assumptions regarding the extension of current biofuel tax credits and tariffs.

You can read the full analysis by clicking here.

SF Mayor Highlights Green in Inaugural Address

newsominaug.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom highlighted green energy, including biodiesel, solar, and wind, in his inaugural address.

Here’s an excerpt from that speech from the mayor’s web site:

The most important step we can take is to make this city carbon neutral. And that is exactly what we are going to do. Today I am pledging to make city government carbon neutral by the year 2020.

It is a daring challenge, but we will make it a reality by building on our pioneering initiatives – a carbon tax and a local carbon offset plan, a 100% biodiesel fleet, a landmark solar incentive program, a green collar jobs tax credit and innovative green building requirements.

And that is just the beginning. We are not just a beacon for the world – we are going to light this city with renewable power. We are aggressively advancing to expand local renewable energy generation – tidal, wave, solar, wind and geothermal.

As you might remember from my November 29th, 2007 post, more than 1,500 vehicles including buses, several fire engines, ambulances, and street sweepers (just to name a few) the city runs are now running on biodiesel, proving that San Francisco is putting its money where its green mouth is.

WIREC 2008 Agenda Set

WIREC 08The agenda has been set for the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference, or WIREC 2008. Cabinet-level government officials from more than 70 countries will gather with industry leaders at the event to discuss the opportunities and challenges of a global, rapid deployment of renewable energy.

WIREC 2008 is the third global ministerial-level conference on renewable energy, following events in Beijing in 2005 and Bonn in 2004. The schedule has been designed to complement that of the Trade Show and Business Conference at WIREC 2008, which is being organized by the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE).

Participants will address key drivers of greater renewable energy production and use, including: Market Adoption and Finance; Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development; Technology, Research and Development; and State and Local Government Initiatives. Each theme will examine policy initiatives that can facilitate rapid scale-up of renewable energy.

Registration information is available on-line here.

MO Governor Pushes More Ethanol

MO Governor Matt BluntMissouri Governor Matt Blunt is serious about making the Show Me State a renewable fuels leader.

As of January 1, the state became only the third in the nation to implement a statewide 10 percent ethanol standard. Now the governor has proposed several initiatives targeted at promoting the use of and expanding access to E85 in Missouri.

At the Missouri Governor’s Conference on Agriculture Monday in St. Louis, Blunt told reporters that he supports tax incentives for retail outlets to install E85 pumps. “Only about two percent of our gas stations sell E85,” said Blunt. “E85 is a cleaner burning fuel, good for the environment, helpful to Missouri farmers, and from a national security perspective it makes a lot more sense to buy fuel that’s produced right here in the Midwest rather than in the Mid East.”

Blunt’s proposals will be considered by the Missouri legislature during the 2008 session which begins on Wednesday.

Listen to Blunt’s comments in response to questions from Domestic Fuel reporter Chuck Zimmerman.

Tennessee DOT Giving Grants to Promote Biofuels

biotenn.jpgTennessee’s Department of Transportation plans to hand out $1 million in grants to help promote biodiesel and ethanol at gas pumps along the interstates in Tennessee.

This story in the Chattanooga (TN) Times Free Press says one of the first Green Island Corridor grants is going to a station in Cleveland in the southeast part of the state:

Tom Robertson, owner of Fuel & Mart USA No. 4 on Lee Highway, said the store will convert a gasoline tank into one suitable for biodiesel within weeks.

“I would say we’ll begin selling it within a couple of months,” Mr. Robertson said.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation awarded $12,024 to Fuel & Mart USA No. 4 in November, state officials said.

TDOT officials said the state set aside about $1 million to help establish a network of biodiesel and ethanol stations along Tennessee interstates.

TDOT spokeswoman Julie Oaks said the idea is to have stations no more than 100 miles apart, giving travelers a chance to refuel using alternatives.

She said the state has already approved grants for 64 to 66 pumps and could fund up to 22 more. No more state or federal dollars have been set aside, she said.

“We are hoping to receive additional state dollars,” she said.

Officials believe the grants will make it easier for the small businessmen who run the gas stations to make the infrastructure changes needed. Some estimates say the cost of converting a tank can be $16,000 to $18,000.

Measuring Up the Candidates

repubguide.jpgSo you say you haven’t heard enough from the 16 candidates running for President? There’s just not been enough media coverage for your tastes? OK, so maybe you think you’ve heard enough about the crowd (especially if you’re living in Iowa or New Hampshire), but you do need some information to make an informed decision, right? Especially when it comes to how they stack up on alternative energy issues.

Well, The Daily Green web site is offering a voter’s guide to how green all the candidates are (don’t be fooled by the graphic, there’s plenty of links to see how the Democrats are on alternative fuel issues). Here’s an example of what you would see on the page. I put these two candidates side by side. Normally, it’s just one at a time. Do your own comparing:

As I said, there are similar links for each of the candidates, Republicans and Democrats, at the Daily Green’s election guide web sites. Check ‘em out and make the decision for yourself. Maybe the sooner you make up your mind, the sooner they’ll leave the poor folks in Iowa and New Hampshire alone!

Wind, Solar Left Behind in Energy Bill

While the ethanol and biodiesel industries will benefit from President Bush’s signature on the new energy bill, wind and solar could be left out in the cold a bit.

Tax credits for the solar and wind energy industries are going to expire at the end of 2008. Renewal of the $21.5 billion of those credits prompted a veto threat from President Bush and eventual withdrawal of that section from the bill. This story from Reuters says the lack of the tax credits could have a chilling effect:

Without the tax credits set to expire at the end of 2008, homeowners and businesses will hesitate to invest in the new technologies, industry officials warn. Manufacturing plants for solar and wind power components will also be endangered, they said.

seia.gifThe credits are “absolutely critical for making a market in the United States,” said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “What will happen is you will see solar installations start to drop off in the second quarter of 2008 if they are not extended.”

awea.jpgCongressional action in the early part of 2008 is needed “to keep investors from getting nervous,” said Greg Wetstone, governmental affairs director for the American Wind Energy Association.

“It would be hard to imagine a worse time for the United States to effectively shift away from the one policy that’s now in place that reinforces renewable energy,” Wetstone said.

In the past, the solar and wind energy tax credits were saved at the last minute. But the article points out that the credits will expire three weeks before President Bush leaves office, and there’s seems to be little incentive for him to change his mind.