Solar is Cooking

The American Solar Energy Society’s (ASES) National Solar Tour is set to become the most successful solar event to date, with 648 community solar tours registered. The number of registered tours, which are designed to engage tens of thousands of citizens interested about solar, is nearly triple that of last year when 150,000 people across 49 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico participated.

“Interest in the solar industry is cooking, and consumers across the nation are eager to sample its wares, which bring enticing tax credits, cash rebates, improved property values and cleaner communities to home and business owners across America,” said ASES National Solar Tour Manager Richard Burns.

The 15th annual tour features open house tours of thousands of solar-powered homes, businesses and public agencies. The featured solar projects will demonstrate to consumers how they can save money on their energy bills, reduce carbon emissions and receive tax credits and cash incentives to install solar now. This year, the bulk of the tours will take place on or around October 2, 2010 in all 48 states with just North Dakota and West Virginia missing. In addition, Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are hosting their first solar tours.

According to ASES, among the projects of solar solutions showcased are investments that have helped a couple beat Wall Street with their green ROI, an Iraqi war veteran now fighting in the renewable revolution, solar-powered homes, schools, public agencies, condo complexes, and businesses that run the gamut from solar-powered poultry farms to funeral homes.

Burns says as technologies have evolved, so have the diversity and sophistication of the solutions showcased on the tour. But it is the practical, grassroots approach of the people behind the tours that have made this event such a hit across America. The self-guided and bus-hosted tours are organized by grassroots organizations and solar installers throughout the country. Many tours are free; some tour hosts are non-profits and may request a donation. Click here to register for a tour.

It’s Game Day In Iowa

It’s game day! The Iowa State versus Iowa football game is on for this afternoon and thousands will be watching as Iowa State tries to defeat #9 ranked Iowa.

Last night, the Iowa Corn Growers were treated to an inside look at football. As part of that experience, the University of Iowa cheerleaders stormed into the room leading cheers to pep everyone up. Herky was also there, dressed for game day and hammin’ it up once again for Iowa football and Iowa grown corn.

Throughout the day today you can follow Iowa corn growers as they educate consumers about what they do – grow our food and fuel at their consumer tent in Krause Family Plaza. Fans will get a chance to learn about the products that contain corn and register to win $5,000 in free food or $2,500 in fuel.

Tailgate safely and enjoy eating your food and drinking your beverages, made possible, in part by Iowa’s corn growers.

I’ll see you after kickoff.

You can see pictures from the event in the Iowa Corn Fed Game Day photo album.

Herky the Hawk Hams It Up for Ethanol

One day until the big game – the Iowa State versus Iowa football game that is. I will be at the game with the Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board helping to educate fans about the benefits of ethanol as well as the role Iowa corn farmers are playing in biofuels development. Iowa is the number one producing state of both ethanol and corn. This has been highlighted all week during several promotions as part of the Iowa Corn Fed Game Day sponsorship and on Tuesday, Herky the Hawk was hamming it up for ethanol.

Speaking of corn, corn is an ingredient in more than 4,000 products and is an important part of our daily lives. Who knew, right? Fans will learn more about these products when they stop by the Iowa Corn Fed Game Day tent at the Krause Family Plaza tomorrow between 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. Those who stop by can register to win $5,000 in free food and $2,500 in free fuel. You can also register online at www.iacornfed.com.

I will be posting updates tomorrow during the game. In the meantime, to get you pumped up for ethanol, watch Jerry Lalor with Fox 100.7 interview the non-talking but ethanol loving Iowa mascot, Herky the Hawk.

Kum & Go Supports Ethanol Blended Fuels

Iowa based Kum & Go is a huge supporter of ethanol. In Iowa, 31 of their stations sell E85 and in total 62 of their stations sell E85. In addition, every Kum & Go station offers consumers the choice to use E10 each time they fill up. The company is so passionate about offering consumers ethanol blends at the pump, that they have partnered with the Iowa Corn Growers Association on their latest initiative, Iowa Corn Fed Game Day. I spoke with Matt Chase to learn more.

The promotion is designed to educate consumers about ethanol, but also to educate them about how important corn is in their daily lives. More than 4,000 everyday products use corn. But consumers don’t have to worry about having to make a choice between food, products or fuel. Iowa corn farmers, along with corn farmers around the country, are growing enough corn to meet all of our needs. In fact, this year is expected to be another record harvest using less land than in previous years.

You can learn more about food, fuel and products at www.iacornfed.com where you can register to win $5,000 in free food and $2,500 in free fuel. You can also learn more about the uses of corn by visiting the Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board during Saturday’s Iowa State versus Iowa football game in Iowa City. They will have a booth with fun activities set up in Krause Family Plaza from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm on Saturday, September 11, 2010.

Check out the photos from the pump rally here.

Ethanol Gets Iowa Football Fans Pumped Up

Did you know that 60 cents of each gallon of E85 purchased stays in the state of Iowa? I didn’t know that until I participated in the Iowa Corn Fed Game Day pump rally at Riverside, Iowa to get people “pumped up” for the upcoming Iowa State versus Iowa football game. Another way to look at this is for each gallon of E85 you purchase, 85 cents stays in America; whereas if you purchase E10, only 10 cents stays in America while 90 cents heads out of our borders.

Here are two more interesting facts. Did you know that Iowa is ranked #9 in the country; yet non-ranked Iowa State has the most difficult schedule this year?

And one more…Did you know that Iowa is the leading producer of corn and ethanol in the country? Iowa boasts 40 ethanol plants that produce more than 3 billion gallons of ethanol each year saving consumers money at the pump with each mile they drive.

So where did I learn these nifty facts? From an actual corn farmer, Dick Gallagher, who was on hand to educate consumers about ethanol blended fuels as well as educate consumers about all the products that have corn in them..shirts, biodegradable plastics, carpet, tires, and more. They all use corn as one of their ingredients and whether you realize it or not, our lives would not, and could not, be the same without our corn farmers.

Speaking of our corn farmers, they are growing enough corn to meet all of our needs for food, feed and fuel, both here in America as well as overseas and they are doing it each year using less land.

But let’s hope that Iowa State doesn’t score less than Iowa but scores more than Iowa, but I digress.

Kum & Go was a sponsor of today’s pump rallies and they have been a long-time ethanol supporter. Matt Chase, with Kum & Go told me that 31 of their stores in Iowa sell E85, more than any other retailer, and all of their stations sell E10 blended fuels.

The Iowa Corn Fed Game Day promotion is sponsored by Iowa Corn Growers Association and continues all week long leading up to game day on Saturday. The game begins at 2:30 pm CST but come early. Iowa Corn will have a booth set up at Krause Family Plaza at 10:00 am where they will hosting some fun games as well as the chance to win $5,000 in free food and $2,500 in free ethanol-blended fuel. You can also sign up online at www.iacornfed.com.

And one last cool fact to leave you with….Herky the Hawk is a HUGE fan of ethanol.

Iowa Corn Fed Game Day Highlights Food and Fuel

Did you know that Iowa is leading the way in both corn production and ethanol production but corn is not only used for ethanol? It is also an ingredient in more than 4,000 products including toothpaste, pizza, tires, drywall, bubblegum and more. The Iowa Corn Growers realized that many people don’t know this so they have developed a consumer promotion to educate Iowans about corn. It’s called the Iowa Corn Fed Game Day promotion and entails a sponsorship of the Iowa State vs. Iowa football, wrestling and basketball games.

I spoke with Mindy Williamson, the Iowa Corn Growers Director of Communications, to learn more about the benefits of their Iowa Corn Fed Game Day sponsorship. “We like to call it the Super Bowl of Iowa because Iowa and Iowa State is our biggest rivalry here,” said Williamson.

“The Iowa Corn Growers in Iowa wanted to get together and talk about things other than ethanol,” continued Williamson. “We love ethanol as corn growers but we know there are also 4,000 other products made from corn. We want Iowans to know what those are and how those affect their life.”

Williamson said that one benefit of the sponsorship is that it gives them a venue to educate people about how many products use corn. Another benefit is that they want to bridge the gap between food and fuel and this is a way to do that. “There’s not a competition there. There is plenty of corn. We are excellent at growing corn for both markets,” explained Williamson.

Iowa Corn Growers have launched a promotion to bridge that gap along with the Iowa Corn Fed Game Day. They are giving away $5,000 in groceries and $2,500 in ethanol. You can sign up multiple times online at www.iacornfed.com or at the upcoming football game or even during some of the pump rallies leading up to the game which are being held September 7, in and around Iowa City, Iowa.

Flex-fuel vehicle drivers can fill up their tank with E85 for .85 cents and any driver can sign up to win food and fuel. Herky the Hawk will also be there to get everyone jazzed up for the game. If you miss the pump rallies, then come on over to the Krause Family Plaza Friday, September 11 starting at 10:00 am. CT.

Can’t wait to see you there!

You can learn more about the Iowa Corn Fed Game Day events by listening to my interview with Mindy here. Iowa Corn Fed Game Day

Ethanol Promotion Success at Sturgis

Promotion of ethanol to motorcycle lovers was a bigger success this year than last.

Ethanol Report PodcastThis edition of the “Ethanol Report” with Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Director of Market Development Robert White takes a look at how their sponsorship at the 70th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally went this year.

RFA Sturgis Fueled with Pride 2010This is the second year that RFA partnered with the Legendary Buffalo Chip campgrounds which is the main venue for the huge motorcycle rally that draws hundreds of thousands each year, and this year was even bigger than last year. “We had a much larger than anticipated crowd,” Robert says. “Attendance was less than 500,000 last year and while the final numbers aren’t in, most are suggesting it was above 800,000 this year.”

That gave Robert lots of opportunities to talk with motorcycle owners about using ethanol in their engines, which most of them are doing without even knowing it. “There’s 16 states out there that don’t require labeling at the pump for anything 10 percent and below, so a lot of these guys and gals have been using ethanol for some time and just didn’t know it. So, they are their own case study.”

There was lots of ethanol signage and giveaways at the campground and during the concerts at the venue and RFA also utilized social media for promotions at the event. “I was giving away ethanol t-shirts that were Sturgis 2010 specific on Twitter and Facebook and we had a Facebook Fan Appreciation party where over 100 people showed up and the only way they were invited was through Facebook,” Robert says. Pictures of the event can be found here on RFA’s ethanolpics Flickr photo album.

Listen to Robert tell the story of promoting ethanol at Sturgis in this Ethanol Report podcast. Sturgis Recap Report

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

Pitching for Ethanol

Ethanol hit a home run at the Iowa Cubs game last night in Des Moines.

With the help of Renewable Fuels Association chairman Chris Standlee of Abengoa Bioenergy throwing out the first pitch, the Iowa Cubs beat Oklahoma City RedHawks 8-5 Wednesday night in front of 9,088 fans on Ethanol Night at Principal Park.

The promotional event featured ethanol information and displays, ethanol t-shirts and giveaways. Ethanol industry leaders from Iowa and around the nation attending the event, which was held in conjunction with RFA’s quarterly board meeting being held in Des Moines this week.

Looks like it was lots of fun for everyone – see all the photos here in the RFA Flickr Photo Album from the event.

Ethanol Report on Motorcycle Rally Partnership

Ethanol Report PodcastThis edition of the “Ethanol Report” with Renewable Fuels Association Director of Market Development Robert White talks about their sponsorship at the 70th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, August 6-14 in Sturgis, SD.

RFA Sturgis Fueled with Pride 2010Robert, who is an avid motorcyclist himself, says this is the second year they have elected to have a presence at this event, partnering with the Legendary Buffalo Chip campgrounds which is the main venue for the rally. “More than 100,000 people a day trek through this campground,” he said. “Across the campground, we’ll have banners, educational material and promotional giveaways like koozies at all the local watering holes.”

This may seem like an unusual place to promote ethanol, but Robert says it’s really a great American event for them to reach out to a large number of people in a wide demographic range. “We like the opportunity of having that many people in one small area to educate consumers about ethanol,” said Robert. They will be able to talk with them about the safety of low level ethanol blends up to 15 percent for motorcycle engines, as well as the availability of E85 and mid-level blends for the flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) they may have at home.

Listen to more from Robert in this Ethanol Report podcast. Sturgis Ethanol Report

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

Everyone Wins in Ethanol Border Battle

Everyone was declared a winner in a Minnesota-Wisconsin border battle this week between two fuel retailers on opposite sides of the St. Croix River.

The promotional event on Thursday featured a rush-hour special where both stations sold E85 (85 percent ethanol fuel) at an 85 cents per gallon discount from 4-6 pm. The promotion was supported by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, Wisconsin Corn Growers Association, Holiday Companies, Erickson Oil, American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest and MN & WI Clean Air Choice Teams.

It was all in good fun as Alice in Dairyland (aka Cheryl O’Brien), Wisconsin’s official agricultural ambassador, squared off with the University of Minnesota mascot Goldy Gopher. However, when it came right down to it, Bob Moffit with the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest reports that the Wisconsin station ultimately won the border battle, selling 589 gallons of E85 during the two-hour promotion, while the Minnesota station sold 447 gallons.

Thanks to Bob for the photo!

Growth Energy to Unveil Ethanol TV Campaign

Growth EnergyGrowth Energy is set to unveil an aggressive new television advertising campaign on Monday and is planning “watch parties” and press conferences at different locations around the country to kickoff the new commercials, as well as a live webcast. The $2.5 million national TV advertising campaign is being called a first for the ethanol industry.

Growth Energy leadership, including co-chairman General Wesley Clark, CEO Tom Buis, and advisory board member Jim Nussle will make the announcement at 10:00 am Eastern time Monday from Washington, DC to introduce the six television spots that are set to air on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and Headline News. “Watch Parties” have already been scheduled in Wisconsin at the State Capitol and in Sacramento, California at The Citizen Hotel.

Find out more on Growth Energy’s newly revamped website.

Propel Fuels’ E85 for 85 Cents Event Draws Attention

Ethanol champion David Stoltz's converted E85 truck

Earlier this week, my colleague posted a story about Propel Fuels’ E85 promotion that took place on February 24 and several of its stations in Sacramento. It was a big success, drawing quite a bit of attention from both consumers and the media alike. Biofuels enthusiast, Paul Wikoff participated in the event and sent DomestcFuel some photos including one of local Sacramento resident Dave Stoltz’s and his 1984 Toyota truck that he converted to run E85 (larger jets in the carburetor). Stoltz also restored Darryl Hannah’s “Kill Bill” Trans Am and converted it to run on E85. Darryl Hannah is also a huge supporter and spokesperson for biodiesel.

Propel Fuels CEO Matt Horton Kicks Off E85 Promo

On hand for the event were Propel Fuels’ CEO Matt Horton, representatives from Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District and the US Postal Service. Wikoff noted that thousands of gallons of both ethanol and biodiesel were sold offsetting imported petroleum and lowering greenhouse gas emissions, which is a goal of the Low Carbon Fuels Standard that took effect in January of this year.

Propel Fuels was happy with the event and plans on monitoring its E85 and biodiesel sales over the next few weeks to determine if they gain more ethanol and biodiesel customers. The company is also planning on opening 50 more stations in San Francisco and Southern California this year and anticipates that it will support these new stations with additional E85 promotions. BTW – I just wanted to send Paul a special thanks for sending us the story and pictures!

Flex-Fuel Photo Challenge: Cutest Kid

rfa-e85The E85 Flex-Fuel Challenge, a contest by the Renewable Fuels Association, is offering a lucky winner a pretty nice holiday present. The cutest kid photo will win a year’s supply of fuel.

Here’s how it works.

• Take the most adorable or funny snapshot of your child.
• Submit the photo by midnight on January 5th.
• Vote for your child – or the cutest photo if you didn’t submit a photo.
• Win a free year of fuel.

The grand prize is free fuel for a year and the photo that gets the most votes will win a $500 fuel card. The first 1,000 people to register will receive a reusable grocery bag.

Click here to learn more about the contest and to submit your photo.

RFA Announces Flex Fuel Photo Winner

rfa photo contestSnapping a photo of his daughter stopping to smell the flowers paid off for Rich Johnson of Omaha, Nebraska who has been named the winner of the Renewable Fuels Association Flex-Fuel Challenge Summer Photo Contest. Rich’s photo was judged based on creativity as well as quality out of more than 1,100 photos submitted in the contest this summer.

rfa photo contestAs the winner, Johnson received a $1,000 fueling card, presented by RFA Director of Market Development Robert White. “Educating consumers is all about engaging them where they live and in ways that motivate them to act,” said White. “Based on this contest alone, tens of thousands of Americans were exposed to ethanol-related information, many for the first time.” White says Heather Litton of Westerville, Ohio, won the Most Voted Award and $100 in fuel for her photo entitled “Ethan.”

RFA’s Summer Photo Contest asked consumers to submit their favorite picture from the summer. Between June 15th and July 31st, more than 1,100 consumers submitted photos, the first 500 of which received a $10 gas card for their participation.

Currently, the RFA is sponsoring a Favorite Photo Contest from Sturgis – the famed motorcycle rally in Sturgis, SD. The RFA was a proud sponsor of the Legendary Buffalo Chip Campground, an unofficial home of the Sturgis rally.

Ethanol Night at the Races

Nebraska corn farmers are teaming up with the Junction Motor Speedway to promote Ethanol Night at the Races. The event takes place during Junction Motor Speedway’s Fifth-Annual O’Reilly POWRi Cornhusker Midget Challenge happening Tuesday, July 28 and Wednesday, July 29.  The race brings the best of the best to compete for the twin “Cornhusker Crystal & Chrome” trophies.

DSC00491Hamilton, York and Blue River corn grower associations, along with the Nebraska Corn Grower Association (NeCGA), are combining their efforts to be the title sponsor and promote corn ethanol during the two-day Cornhusker Challenge. Tuesday night’s winner receives $3,000, while Wednesday night’s champion gets to cash a $5,000 check.

NeCCA President and member of the Hamilton County Corn Growers Association Brandon Hunnicutt, said in an article in the York News-Times, “The Cornhusker Challenge draws a lot of fans to central Nebraska, to the heart of the nation’s corn industry, so it is a perfect place for farmers to help get out positive messages about corn ethanol.”

Rick Gruber of the York County Corn Growers Association commented, “We’re going to be on hand promoting corn and ethanol and everything that brings to Nebraska and the country as a whole,” Gruber said. “Nebraska is such a great place for ethanol production — we have the corn and we have the livestock industry to take advantage of the distillers grains that ethanol plants produce. Ethanol is a great win-win for us because other states can’t match that synergy.”