Sun Edison & GRID Alternatives “RISE”

SunEdison and its SunEdison Foundation has announced a $5 million solar/funding contribution to GRID Alternatives to launch a two-year initiative called RISE to connect the solar industry’s demand for skilled workers with communities that need jobs. Building on the successful 2014 SunEdison and GRID Alternatives partnership to bring more women into the solar industry, the RISE initiative will provide underserved communities with solar job training and job placement through GRID Alternatives’ workforce development program.

SunEdison and GRID Alternatives announce major solar workforce initiative called RISE. SunEdison and the SunEdison Foundation contribute $5 million to train women and members of underserved communities for jobs in the solar industry. (PRNewsFoto/SunEdison, Inc.)

SunEdison and GRID Alternatives announce major solar workforce initiative called RISE. SunEdison and the SunEdison Foundation contribute $5 million to train women and members of underserved communities for jobs in the solar industry. (PRNewsFoto/SunEdison, Inc.)

This partnership is making solar more accessible for everyone in America. For lower income families, that means lower electricity bills, more money for necessities, and the opportunity to receive valuable job training,” said Ahmad Chatila, president and chief executive officer of SunEdison. “I’m very proud that with this contribution, SunEdison is truly helping the people who need it most.”

The RISE initiative will provide hands-on training and real-world solar installation experience to over 4,000 people across the country. In addition, the initiative will connect job trainees with solar companies looking for skilled workers. As part of the initiative, GRID Alternatives through its SolarCorps program will provide 40 individuals with one-year paid fellowships in GRID Alternatives’ offices around the country. In addition, SunEdison employees will donate over 2,000 hours of their time installing solar systems for low-income families and supporting job-readiness for trainees.

“The solar industry is adding jobs at a rate of more than 20% year over year,” added Erica Mackie, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of GRID Alternatives. “This is an incredible opportunity to connect an industry that needs good people with people that need good jobs, and that’s just what this partnership is doing.”

SunEdison and GRID Alternatives will also be working with the White House to help President Obama meet his goal of installing 100 megawatts of solar capacity on federally assisted housing in a way that provides job training opportunities to the residents of those communities.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) has announced the keynote speaker for the State of the Geothermal Industry Briefing. Senator Dean Heller, Republican from Nevada, will address attendees at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, February 24, 2015. The one-day program will feature the roll out of GEA’s 2015 Global and US Geothermal Industry Update that details the status of geothermal projects and developments around the world.
  • The Interstate Turbine Advisory Council (ITAC), a project of the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA), has added the Pika T701 turbine to its Unified List of wind turbines. The turbine joins several others on ITAC’s small wind turbine list; these turbines meet ITAC’s listing requirements, a unique set of eligibility criteria that address both the business practices of manufacturers and the performance and reliability of turbines with a rotor swept area of less than 200m2.
  • Citi has announced a commitment to lend, invest and facilitate a total of $100 billion within the next 10 years to finance activities that reduce the impacts of climate change and create environmental solutions that benefit people and communities. With this $100 billion initiative, Citi will build on its leadership in renewable energy and energy efficiency financing to engage with clients to identify opportunities to finance greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions and resource efficiency in other sectors, such as sustainable transportation.
  • Southern Company subsidiary Southern Power has announced the acquisition of two photovoltaic (PV) solar projects totaling 99 megawatts in Georgia – the 80 MW Decatur Parkway Solar Project and the 19 MW Decatur County Solar Project – from Tradewind Energy, Inc. The electricity and associated renewable energy credits generated by the 80 MW facility will be sold under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Georgia Power. Construction of the 80 MW facility is currently scheduled to begin this month.

RFA Chairman Pleased with 20th Ethanol Conference

nec15-doyleRenewable Fuels Association (RFA) chairman and Al-Corn Clean Fuel CEO Randy Doyal was pleased with this year’s turnout at the 20th National Ethanol Conference in the “heart of oil country.”

“This has been a really great conference,” said Doyal, whose farmer-owned cooperative plant in Claremont, Minnesota is about 20 years old as well. “Twenty years ago when we were starting the plant we had, for the first time, five dollar corn,” he said. “It was perfect timing because we got up and running when a lot of the industry was ceasing because of that price and because of our co-op nature we were able to do that.”

Doyal is a firm believer in the RFA and what they are able to accomplish as an organization for the entire industry, and he wishes all producers were members. He compares it to the co-op structure of his plant. “There’s a reason why co-ops work,” he said. “It’s because people join together and work hard to achieve common goals and that’s what RFA is all about.” Interview with RFA Chairman Randy Doyal, Al-Corn

2015 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

Political Insiders Provide Ethanol Policy Perspective

nec15-insiders-panelRenewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen welcomed back veteran Washington Insiders panelists at the 20th National Ethanol Conference last week, kind of like a Saturday Night Live reunion, he joked.

The panelists were National Corn Growers Association Executive Vice President Jon Doggett, John Eichberger with the National Association of Convenience Stores, Bob Greco of the American Petroleum Institute, Shane Karr with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and Advanced Ethanol Council Executive Director Brooke Coleman. Each offered their views on a number of policy and political topics from what Congress may do regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to who the presidential candidates will be in 2016.

NEC 15 Washington Insiders Panel

2015 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NREL: Biodiesel Leads Biofuels Growth in US

renewenergydatabookThe latest numbers from the federal government shows biodiesel was the leader in growth among biofuels in the United States. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) 2013 Renewable Energy Data Book showed good gains for many of the renewable energy industries, while energy consumption from petroleum actually slumped, despite an overall increase in the amount of energy consumed.

United States overall energy consumption grew to 97.3 quadrillion Btu in 2013, a 2.4% increase from 2012. Energy consumption from coal and renewables grew slightly, while consumption from petroleum and natural gas fell slightly.

Biodiesel was the fastest growing biofuel type, with production increasing by 64% in the United States and 17% globally, from a relatively small base.

Renewable electricity [including hydropower and biopower] grew to nearly 15% of total installed capacity and 13% of total electricity generation in the United States in 2013. Installed renewable electricity capacity exceeded 171 gigawatts (GW) in 2013, generating 534 TWh.

[S]olar electricity was the fastest growing electricity generation technology, with cumulative installed capacity increasing by nearly 66% from the previous year.

[W]ind electricity generation increased 20% in 2013, while wind electricity capacity grew 1.8%.

The report also found that in 2013, renewable electricity accounted for more than 61 percent of all new electricity capacity installations in the United States. By comparison, renewable electricity captured 4 percent of new capacity additions in 2004 and 57 percent in 2008.

Globally, solar photovoltaics (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) are among the fastest growing renewable electricity technologies— between 2000 and 2013, solar electricity generation worldwide increased by a factor of nearly 68.

Iowa Biodiesel Board Welcomes State ‘Gas Tax’

iowabiodieselboardThe Iowa Biodiesel Board (IBB) is welcoming a proposal that would raise the state’s fuel tax. This news release from the group says the proposed state legislation would give a partial exemption to the new tax for diesel blended with at least 11 percent biodiesel (B11), encouraging use and growth of the green fuel.

The proposed tax increase (HF 351 and SF 257) is 10 cents a gallon for both diesel and gasoline as part of a plan to address Iowa’s infrastructure needs. A provision provides a 3 cent exemption for biodiesel blends of B11 and above for 5 years.

The IBB, whose membership includes biodiesel producers, soybean farmers and other stakeholders, called the biodiesel nod a bold leadership move.

“This is smart policy on the part of our state leaders that will benefit the entire state, and we thank them,” said Grant Kimberley, executive director of IBB. “Doing everything we can to encourage biodiesel production and usage generates significant economic activity for Iowa. Every gallon of biodiesel we use at home is one less equivalent gallon from the Middle East, and keeps money in our state.”

The bill has a 5-year sunset, but the IBB is hoping to see that extended to 10 years in the future.

Where RFA and EPA Disagree

nec15-dinneen-grundlerEPA Director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality Chris Grundler was sincere and apologetic during his appearance at the National Ethanol Conference last week, but he admits to having areas of disagreement with Renewable Fuels Association CEO Bob Dinneen.

“E15 will never realize its full potential until there is parity with regard to EPA volatility regulations for E10 and E15,” said Dinneen in his State of the Industry speech at the 20th annual ethanol conference. “To date, the Agency has rejected our efforts to secure parity, thereby ensuring that E15 is at best a seasonal fuel, a huge disincentive for marketers to adopt E15 at their stations.”

Asked about this issue by DomesticFuel, Grundler said, “That’s one of the areas that Bob and I have vigorous debates on, because I’m questioning how big a factor that is in terms of the slow uptake in E15.”

Grundler said parity is not an issue in regions where reformulated gasoline is required. “That accounts for between 30 and 40 percent of our fuel supply …. including places like Chicago,” he said, adding that governors have the ability to petition EPA to remove this one pound RVP waiver for their states but they “have received no such petitions.”

I also asked Grundler what he thought about Dinneen’s criticism of the EPA in his speech. “I didn’t think it was too harsh (but) I didn’t agree with everything he had to say,” said Grundler, adding that he thinks all stakeholders in this issue seem to overestimate EPA’s authority. “That’s where (Bob) and I differ. He thinks we can do some things that I don’t think we can,” he said.

Listen to Grundler’s answers to my questions here: EPA's Chris Grundler press questions

2015 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NASCAR Starts 5th Year on American Ethanol

american-ethanol-fuelFuel with 15 percent ethanol, known as E15, has been approved for sale by the Environmental Protection Agency since January 2011. Two months later Sunoco Green E15 debuted at the 2011 Daytona 500.

American Ethanol
celebrated the start of the fifth year of its partnership with NASCAR at the Great American Race this weekend. “They’ve put over six million hard-earned miles at high RPMs on these race cars,” said Tom Buis of Growth Energy at the race on Sunday. “They got better performance, they didn’t lose mileage and they haven’t had a single problem.”

Interview with Tom Buis, Growth Energy, at Daytona 500

NASCAR Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar says the partnership with American Ethanol has been very positive for them. “What we love about ethanol is not only is it a great renewable but it’s a great racing fuel, higher octane so it’s great performance for the drivers,” he said. “It’s also great for the environment, reduces greenhouse gases, homemade here in America …. it’s a win-win-win and in car races we’re all about winning!”

Dewar lived in Brazil as that country was moving to higher ethanol blends and he hopes to see it grow here in the United States as well. Interview with Brent Dewar, NASCAR, at Daytona 500

Growth Energy, the National Corn Growers Association, New Holland and POET-DSM are partners in American Ethanol with NASCAR.

Ethanol Conference Scholarship Winner

nec15-scholarshipThis year’s National Ethanol Conference scholarship winner hails from Brazil where she received her master’s degree in international relations in 2012 from San Tiago Dantas, a graduate program supported by three of Brazil’s premier universities.

Lais Thomaz, pictured here with Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen, was pleased to be able to attend the conference to learn more first hand about the U.S. ethanol industry that will help in her research. Her dissertation, which focused on the role of advocacy groups in the shaping of ethanol trade policies, was published as a book by Brazil’s Editora UNESP. Her research previously won the Top Ethanol Award promoted by the Brazilian Sugarcane Ethanol Industry Association (UNICA). She is currently a Ph.D. candidate and a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Government at Georgetown University.

Listen to my interview with Lais here: Interview with NEC 15 Scholarship Winner

2015 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

#NEC15 Wrap Up

nec15-globalRenewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen wrapped up the 20th annual National Ethanol Conference on Friday as optimistic as ever.

“The atmosphere in the room, the attitude of the producers that I talked to, the confidence that they continue to show in their industry,” said Dinneen. “They are braced for whatever comes their way and we’re not going away.”

Dinneen gives an overview of the convention last week and some of his takeaways. NEC15 Wrap up with RFA CEO Bob Dinneen

2015 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

Austin Dillon Proud of American Ethanol Affiliation

nh-daytona-dillonAmerican Ethanol NASCAR driver Austin Dillon is proud of his affiliation with homegrown ethanol and pleased with the performance of E15 on the track.

“I really support what we’re doing with American Ethanol,” said Dillon in an interview this weekend. “It’s funny that you wouldn’t think NASCAR would be a “green” sport” but what we’ve done with American Ethanol has helped us be the leader in sports with green American Ethanol.”

Dillon drove the number 33 car in the Xfinity Series Alert Today Florida 300 race at Daytona Speedway on Saturday, finishing 4th, and is driving the #3 car in the Daytona 500 race for Richard Childress Racing. Prior to the race on Saturday, Austin spent some time with a group of New Holland dealers. New Holland is a strong supporter of American Ethanol.

Listen to my interview with Austin here: Interview with NASCAR driver Austin Dillon

NFL Hall of Fame Member Supports Ethanol

nec15-houstonJoining in the golf tournament prior to the start of the Renewable Fuels Association’s National Ethanol Conference last week was NFL Hall of Fame member Kenny Houston.

Houston finished his career with the Washington Redskins in 1980 and played in 12 Pro Bowls and the more than 30 teams at NEC 2015 golf tournament really enjoyed hanging out with him. For his part, Houston enjoyed learning more about the ethanol industry from them. “Being from Texas I definitely know about ethanol so I jumped at the chance (to attend the conference) and I’m glad I did,” he said.

Houston agrees that ethanol has been good for the economy and helped to hold down gas prices. “I think they (the ethanol industry) work for a balance,” he said. “Right now, I think it’s a win-win.”

Listen to my interview with Kenny here: Interview with Kenny Houston

2015 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

Panel Explores Progress of RFS and LCFS

nec15-panel1A diverse group of stakeholders gave a diverse set of opinions on the progress to date of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper moderated the panel which featured (L to R) Jeremy Martin with the Union of Concerned Scientists, Chris Highsmith of Eco-Energy, Derek Regal of oil refiner Tesoro, Pacific Ethanol president Neil Koehler, and Michael Rensing with the British Colombia Ministry of Energy and Mines.

Cooper called the RFS “a remarkable success to date…by any metric that you choose” and said despite efforts by California to eliminate corn ethanol “the LCFS has succeeded so far because of grain-based ethanol” but they still have concerns about the program going forward.

Listen to the panelists viewpoints here: NEC 15 Panel on RFS and LCFS

2015 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

Former USTR Praises Ethanol for Going Global

nec15-kirkFormer U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk was the keynote speaker at the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) National Ethanol Conference this week where the theme was “Going Global” with an emphasis on exports.

“I want to thank you for your very strong and vocal support for a very smart trade policy for our country over the years,” said Kirk, who served under President Obama in his first term. “You understand the importance of going global.”

Kirk lamented that too many Americans have “gone sour” on international trade, citing a poll that found twice as many Americans said they believe in the existence of UFOs than believed international trade was good for America. “We have got to go out and tell the story of the real benefits of trade,” he said.

Listen to Kirk’s remarks here: Former USTR Ron Kirk at NEC 15

2015 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel Feedstock Theft Prompts New Bill in NJ

njdomeAn increase in demand for biodiesel has, in turn, pushed up the theft of one of the green fuel’s feedstock, used cooking oil. This article from NorthJersey.com says lawmakers in New Jersey are proposing more regulations intended to crack down on the thefts. But not everyone is convinced it will help.

A bill, already passed by the state Senate, would regulate an industry that has until now been a dirty, smelly, under-the-radar business in which the participants have faced virtually no state oversight. The bill would require collectors and recyclers of used cooking oil — also known as yellow grease — to be certified by the state.
Anthony Contorno started a grease collection business in Carlstadt and fears a bill in Trenton to regulate the industry would squeeze out operations like his. At right, Contorno gathering used oil at an East Rutherford eatery.

Supporters say that requiring companies to be certified and to document all sales and purchases of yellow grease would reduce theft, but opponents say it would squeeze little players from the industry and add bureaucracy without curbing theft.

“That’s a question of policing, it’s not a question of licensing,” said state Sen. Gerald Cardinale, R-Demarest, who voted against the bill. “The remedy did not seem to address the problem. You can’t just say we are going to have more regulation and we are going to stop thieves. Thieves are still going to steal, and they will find some way to dispose of product.”

Opponents of the bill worry it will force out small companies from being able to operate. Proponents argue that grease thefts take income away from legitimate operators and hurts the waste-to-biodiesel industry overall.