Growth Energy Pleased With Obama Visit to Ethanol Plant

obama buisGrowth Energy CEO Tom Buis gave President Obama a big hug after his speech at the POET ethanol plant in Macon, Missouri on Wednesday.

“It’s a great honor to have the president of the United States come out to an ethanol plant and demonstrate again his long support for production of renewable fuels,” Buis said in an interview with Domestic Fuel at the event. “He again reiterated this nation continues to face economic challenges based on our addiction to foreign oil and we need to produce renewable fuels here in America and that’s a powerful message from the most powerful person in the world.”

Buis also talked about the recently introduced Growth Energy advertising campaign for ethanol and reaction they have received to it. “The feedback has been very positive,” he said, noting that ethanol needed some visibility on national television next to the other sources of energy that are advertised. “The old line is that if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu and we wanted to be at the table and get the positive message out there.”

Listen to the interview with Tom Buis here:

POET Meets the Press

poet pressPOET CEO Jeff Broin was surrounded by the media Wednesday after President Obama made a visit to a POET ethanol plant in Macon, Missouri. It gave him an opportunity to address some of the criticism of ethanol regarding its impact on the environment.

“Today ethanol is 59 percent lower in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline and so it is far more environmentally friendly,” Broin responded to a reporter’s question. He talked about indirect land use change, cellulosic ethanol, increasing efficiency of ethanol plants and the ability of cars to run efficiently on higher blends of ethanol. “I personally own a flex-fuel vehicle that gets the same mileage on E30 as it gets on regular gasoline,” Broin said.

Although he admitted not having enough time with President Obama to talk extensively about issues facing the industry, Broin said he believes the president supports biofuels. “I think the president has been a true champion for biofuels,” said Broin. “He was when he was in Illinois, he seems to still be extremely supportive, the secretary of agriculture is very supportive and I think that we’ll continue to see the president be very supportive of biofuels.”

Here is an audio clip of Broin’s press meet, followed by an interview with Domestic Fuel’s Chuck Zimmerman.

President’s Ethanol Speech Lacks Substance

Ethanol producers and corn farmers who were hoping for President Obama to make a strong show of support for the ethanol industry when he appeared at a POET plant in Missouri on Wednesday were probably a little disappointed. Yes, he made the appearance and said that “renewable, homegrown fuels are a key part of our strategy for a clean energy future” – but that was about it.

The entire speech, minus introductions, was only 10 minutes long and most of it was spent talking about the economy. About three minutes were spent on what the administration has done to promote renewable energy with the economic recovery act, the Biofuels Working Group and the Navy using biofuel in a new jet. However, there was no mention at all of the top priorities for the ethanol industry – getting the tax incentives renewed and the E15 waiver approved. Without those actions, the future of the ethanol industry is questionable.

poet obamaThe president only used the word ethanol five times, but preferred the more generic “biofuels” which was used nine times. Once, when he strayed from his prepared remarks, he used the word “biodiesel” apparently by mistake, saying “I want us to be first when it comes to biodiesel and the technologies that are being developed in places like POET.”

It is also notable that the president did not even mention the word corn, even though he was standing next to a big front end loader filled with it. The word agriculture was used only in reference to the U.S. Secretary and state director of agriculture present at the event. Farmers were only referenced in terms of the “tough time” they were having “getting by” when he was running for office.

The good news is that POET president Jeff Broin did get a chance to speak briefly with the president about the industry’s concerns. “We talked about the fact that cellulosic ethanol had the potential to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and that there were some policy issues that are very important to move that forward, the first being the fact that today the market is full,” said Broin. “Basically ten percent ethanol is what’s allowed in gasoline today and we need to move that wall and open up the market.” However, Broin says he only had a limited amount of time to talk with the president and was not able to address the ethanol tax incentive issue, but he did discuss it with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

One can be hopeful that meeting real workers with real jobs at a real ethanol plant in a small rural community made an impression on the president and he makes the connection between that and the need to provide real support to keep the industry growing.

Live Audio of President Speech at Ethanol Plant

We are going to try and bring you live audio of President Obama’s speech at the POET ethanol plant in Macon, Missouri via cell phone and Ustream since there is no good internet access at the site and aircards don’t work well for live broadcasts. Speech is scheduled to begin at 12:55 central time. Audio is not clear at all since Chuck has the phone sitting on a table and is unable to take photos and hold up the phone at the same time. We will have broadcast quality audio after the event.

Post Update: We hope you were able to listen in when President Obama made his remarks from the POET Biorefining plant today.

You can now listen to his remarks below.

President Obama Visiting POET Plant Today

Hello from POET Biorefining in Macon, MO. In just a few minutes President Obama will be here to speak. We have very limited access to the internet here.

I’ll create a photo album from the activities today and be posting audio of the President and video. That might have to wait until I get out and back to some good internet though.

Keep an eye on our Twitter feed too. I’ll be tweeting some more photos.

Sunny Day for Presidential Visit to Ethanol Plant

poet plantChuck Zimmerman with Domestic Fuel is set up in Macon, Missouri at the POET ethanol plant in advance of President Obama’s visit this afternoon. The press has to set up way early for the visit, which will take place at about 1:00 pm central time.

Chuck reports that the weather is gorgeous and there are lots of media on site for the event, from the major media outlets to local radio stations. You can follow his updates on our Twitter feed, twitter.com/DomesticFuel.

Ethanol Industry Welcomes President

Growth Energy Growth Energy is so excited to welcome President Obama to member plant POET–Biorefining in Macon, Mo., as part of his “White House to Main Street” tour they took out a full-page ad in Wednesday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch to greet him.

Text of the ad reads: “The farmers, families, plant workers, local business owners and community members who make up Growth Energy are pleased to welcome President Obama to our member ethanol plant in Macon. President Obama’s support of our nation’s ethanol industry helps create U.S. jobs in hundreds of towns like Macon, while strengthening our energy independence and national security. Mr. President, from the people of Growth Energy, welcome to America’s heartland.”

The President is visiting the POET plant this afternoon to talk to workers and share his ideas for rebuilding our nation’s long-term economy. “We appreciate President Obama’s long-time support for ethanol, and we’re anxious to show him how efficient production today is providing valuable fuel for our nation,” POET CEO Jeff Broin said.

POET Biorefining – Macon was the first ethanol plant in Missouri when it began operations as a 15 million gallon-per-year plant in May 2000. Its success prompted an expansion in 2003 to a capacity of 46 million gallons annually. The plant also produces the high-protein animal feed Dakota Gold® dried distillers’ grains and carbon dioxide for market as part of the ethanol production process. The Macon plant was POET’s fifth in a network that now totals 26 ethanol plants in seven states.

Domestic Fuel will be on-site covering the event and may have live coverage here depending on internet access. Stay tuned.

POET Ups the Cellulosic Ethanol Ante

Jeff BroinThe largest ethanol producer in the world intends to be directly or indirectly responsible for the production of 3.5 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol by 2022.

Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., POET CEO Jeff Broin said they have made enough progress on technology and feedstock development to break ground on their first cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa later this year. “By 2022, POET plans to be responsible for 3.5 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol production by adding the technology to our existing facilities, licensing our technology to other producers and finally, transferring our technology to other forms of biomass such as wheat straw, switchgrass and municipal waste,” Broin said. That volume would represent over 20 percent of the cellulosic ethanol mandated in the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Specifically, one billion gallons of production capacity will come from adding the technology to POET’s existing network of 26 corn-based ethanol plants, while licensing that technology to other corn-based ethanol producers would add another 1.4 billion gallons of production capacity. Another 1.1 billion gallons of production capacity will come from a wide variety of other feedstocks from across the U.S, either produced by POET or through joint ventures and opportunities where POET Biomass provides logistics support to other producers.

POET submitted its application for a loan guarantee with the U.S. Department of Energy to build the Emmetsburg plant. “If we get that favorable ruling, we told the DOE that we will start construction by the end of this year, which puts us on track to start up the facility in early 2012,” said Broin.

POET Ethanol Plants Get Safety Awards

Five POET ethanol plants have been recognized for chemical transportation safety, receiving the Union Pacific Railroad’s 14th annual Pinnacle Award. The award is given to companies that have no non-accident releases during the year and have successful prevention and corrective plans in place.

“This is Union Pacific’s opportunity to acknowledge and thank our customers for their continuing efforts to eliminate chemical releases from rail cars,” said Diane Duren, POET vice president and general manager – chemicals. “Rail is the safest way to haul the chemicals that Americans use every day, whether it is chlorine for drinking water or fertilizer for our farms that help feed the world.”

POET Biorefining plants in Ashton, Emmetsburg and Jewell, Iowa; Lake Crystal, Minn.; and Hudson, S.D. received the award.

Ethanol Advertising Blitz

Expect to see ethanol advertising saturating the airwaves over the next few months.

poet adGrowth Energy and POET both announced major television advertising campaigns this morning that will air on major cable television networks, including Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, and CNN. The POET campaign includes three ads, each representing a different aspect of ethanol production with a farmer, a scientist and a plant manager reciting free-verse poetry explaining their role in helping solve our nation’s fuel crisis.

Growth Energy, which is co-chaired by POET CEO Jeff Broin, introduced a $2.5 million campaign with six television spots during a live webcast from Washington DC this morning. Co-chairman General Wesley Clark, advisory board member Jim Nussle and CEO Tom Buis joined together for the announcement.

growth energy nussle buis clark“This is a dramatic step for domestic ethanol, it is a first for our industry,” Buis announced. “Never before has American ethanol developed a sustained TV ad campaign.”

“With this ad campaign, we’re going to make the case for America’s fuel – for ethanol – and it’s a forceful case for ending our addiction to foreign oil,” said Clark. “I think TV is the best way to shape public opinion.”

“American ethanol is engaging the nation in a way that has never been done before,” Nussle added. “America’s ethanol industry hopes to engage the American people in the conversation about America’s energy security.”

The campaign is called “America’s Fuel” and each of the six spots focuses on a particular message about ethanol: Independent, Clean, Renewable, Peace, Sensible and Economic. The spots began airing at 6 a.m. today and will continue for six months.

But “America’s Fuel” will have some competition from “Brazil’s Fuel” as the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) also launched a campaign today aimed at explaining the benefits of sugarcane ethanol. UNICA’s campaign includes a new website, SweeterAlternative.com, online, print and radio advertising, new research and a high-profile partnership with the Indy Racing League.

Listen to the opening statements from the Growth Energy press conference in the player below:

Fortune Brainstorm Green Biofuels Session

Three CEOs of companies working toward next-generation biofuels will take the stage at Fortune Magazine’s Brainstorm Green conference in California next week.

Joining the conversation on “Beyond Corn Ethanol?” will be Jeff Broin of POET, William Roe of Coskata and Jonathan Wolfson with Solazyme. Broin will also take part in another discussion on “Renewable Energy – Hype and Reality” with David Crane of NRG Energy; Bill Gross, Founder of eSolar and Idealab; Katrina Landis, BP Alternative Energy Division CEO; and Martha Wyrsch, President of Vestas Wind Systems.

Other topics at the conference include clean technology, the role of government in current and future energy issues, sustainability, electric cars, and more.

Registration and more information about the conference can be found here on-line.

Ethanol Producer Plans to Cut Water Use

poet plantThe world’s largest ethanol producer plans to decrease water use in the production of ethanol by 22 percent over the next five years, which would result in a savings of one billion gallons of water per year.

In a presentation to employees today, POET CEO Jeff Broin said the company is committed to producing ethanol as sustainably as possible and minimizing its impact on natural resources.

poetWater reduction is the first goal of Ingreenuity, POET’s new initiative to improve the environmental performance of ethanol. The reductions will come primarily through installing a proprietary process developed by POET engineers that recycles cooling water rather than discharging it. The process has recently been installed in three POET Biorefining locations which now average 2 to 2.5 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol.

To kick off the initiative, Broin announced that the POET Foundation has committed more than $420,000 to the non-profit Global Health Ministries (GHM) over the same five-year period as POET’s water reduction goal. A portion of the funds will help GHM repair, construct and maintain 90 wells in Nigeria that that will give more than 300,000 people access to pure water.

Ethanol Industry Rep Appointed to California Panel

CA ARBAt least one ethanol industry representative has been appointed to an expert work group attempting to assess the true carbon footprint of all fuel sources under the California’s proposed Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

POET Senior Vice President of Science and Technology Mark Stowers has been appointed to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is one of 30 experts from around the world appointed to the group. The group has been charged with assisting the Board in “refining and improving the land use and indirect effect analysis of transportation fuels,” according to a CARB resolution. The group will come up with recommendations to present to CARB by Jan. 1, 2011. The group’s first meeting will be Feb. 26 in Sacramento.

“The Low Carbon Fuel Standard is an important piece of energy policy, too important to rely on theories or unproven models,” Stowers said. “As the lone representative for ethanol producers in the workgroup, I want to make sure than all carbon accounting is based on the wealth of facts and accumulated data regarding agriculture, energy and deforestation. I also want to ensure that all fuels, including oil and electricity, are held to the same accounting standards as biofuels so that the rule truly can lower carbon emissions.”

The group also includes Jesper Hedal Kløverpris of Novozymes, which produces enzymes to further the development of advanced biofuels, as well as a number of university and energy researchers – but Stowers is the only ethanol industry representative on the panel. Stowers has led efforts at POET to create new, efficient processes for producing grain-based ethanol that save energy, limit water use and improve ethanol yields. He also leads POET’s cellulosic ethanol effort, known as Project LIBERTY, which produces ethanol from corn cobs.

POET to Announce Cellulosic Ethanol Plans

POET, the largest ethanol producer in the world, plans to announce plans of their process for Project LIBERTY, a 25-million-gallon-per-year cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa. According to their press release, POET’s Senior Vice President of Science and Technology Mark Stowers will speak Thursday at the F.O. Licht’s 3rd Annual Developing and Commercialising Next Generation Biofuels conference in London detailing.

Project LIBERTY’s construction is scheduled to begin this year and will use corn cobs as feedstock. POET has operated a pilot cellulosic ethanol plant in Scotland, S.D. since November 2008. The location of this new plant will be alongside the Emmetsburg grain ethanol plant making a more efficient process.

A documentary of POET’s pilot cellulosic ethanol plant can be found by clicking here.