American Farmers and Energy Independence

flag-fuelThanks to American farmers, our nation is closer than ever to energy independence. As you celebrate this weekend, remember the farmers who have helped make this country great for nearly 240 years!

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Wishing you a safe and blessed Independence Day!

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Tom L. Ward, chairman and CEO of Tapstone Energy, has joined the Board of Directors of Nopetro. Ward also completed an equity investment in the company, which is Florida’s leading compressed natural gas (CNG) infrastructure provider. Ward previously co-founded and served as president and COO of Chesapeake Energy, and as founder, chairman and CEO of SandRidge Energy. Ward’s investment in Nopetro will support the company’s expansion across the U.S.
  • Abengoa has had its credit rating upgraded by one notch by the rating agency Standard & Poors (S&P). S&P has revised the rating of Abengoa from B to B+ with a stable outlook.
  • Merkur Offshore has signed with respectively Alstom and DEME a binding Turbine Supply Agreement and Balance of Plant Contract for the construction of the Merkur Offshore wind farm, including supply and installation of 66 Alstom Haliade 150-6MW offshore wind turbines. Additionally, Alstom has signed a long term service and maintenance contract.
  • Under an agreement by Eagle Mountain LLC to buy the Kaiser Eagle Mountain mine near Desert Center from CIL&D (formerly known as Kaiser Ventures) is moving forward with the goal of transforming the site into a pumped storage electricity station that can bank energy from solar, wind and geothermal power plants for release during times of peak demand and to maintain grid stability. The proposal calls for converting two of the mine’s vacant pits into reservoirs that transfer water back and forth through a state-of-the-art underground turbine system that can produce up to 1,300 megawatts of electricity – enough to power nearly 1 million homes.

Ethanol Blends Save Drivers Money

aceAs drivers are hitting the road for the 4th of July weekend, they’ll be able to do so with a little extra jingle in their pockets, thanks to ethanol. This news release from the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) says gas prices are lower because of the green fuel.

“People are traveling more because gas prices are about a dollar a gallon less than last year,” says ACE Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty, “American drivers are paying $11 billion a month less at the pump. That’s almost $40 bucks a month for every man, woman and child in the U.S.”

Lamberty says ethanol production gains made possible by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) are a big help in lowering the price of gas.

“Ethanol costs less than gas, so adding ethanol lowers the price of gas,” Lamberty explained. “And when people can use more ethanol in fuels like E15 or E85, that’s more competition for gasoline. That forces oil companies to lower their prices to compete, and that’s why they badmouth ethanol and the RFS.”

Lamberty also warned that Big Oil is trying to get Congress and the EPA to eliminate or dramatically weaken laws that allow ethanol to compete with gasoline, and if petroleum interests are successful, we’ll all end up paying more.

Our Poll on RFS Changes Gets Mixed Results

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Will EPA change RFS volume proposal?”

The EPA recently released a new proposal for biofuels volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard – one that has made no one happy but particularly corn farmers and ethanol producers who note that the agency is not implementing the law as intended. EPA held a public hearing to get comments on the proposal but will it lead to a change? Half of those who took our recent poll believe that the EPA won’t change RFS volumes. Time will tell.

Here are the poll results:

  • No – 50%
  • Yes – 29%
  • Maybe – 21%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, What’s on your grill this 4th of July?

Beyond fireworks, grilling seems to be a top priority when families and friends gather to celebrate Independence Day. July is also known as National Hot Dog Month. So, will you be joining the tradition by eating hot dogs on the 4th or will you be grilling up something else?

EFS Offering Hawaii Homeowners Solar Financing

Energy Finance Solutions (EFS) has partnered with the State of Hawaii’s Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) Program to help make clean energy improvements accessible to Hawaii utility customers. EFS has developed financing options that make the purchase and installation of solar photovoltaic systems simple and affordable for Hawaii residents.

Photo Credit: Blue Planet Foundation

Photo Credit: Blue Planet Foundation

“Often, utility customers want to install solar, but the upfront installation cost is a challenge, and it’s not always easy for them to obtain financing through a traditional channel,” explained Cyd Miyashiro of the Hawaii Green Infrastructure Authority. “We are thrilled to offer an easy, affordable way to get our customers the financing they need—and to work with EFS, a partner with a long history and strong track record in financing energy efficiency and renewable energy. The State of Hawaii is committed to renewable power and hopes this initiative will drive increased adoption amongst our residents.”

Loans through the GEMS Program are now available to finance up to 100 percent of the cost of solar electric systems (up to $75,000), with no down payment required. The Program partners with qualified installers to assist borrowers with the installation of solar photovoltaic equipment. Fixed-rate loan terms are available for up to 20 years, and there are no closing costs or prepayment penalties associated with the loans. To be eligible, owner-occupied, single-family homes must be located in the State of Hawaii and within the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ (HECO) utility service territories.

Speaking of Hawaii, a recent Today in Energy report looks at Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that were recently passed by Hawaii and Vermont. Both pieces of legislation require significant increases in renewable electricity and home solar systems will be an important factor in achieving mandates. Hawaii is requiring 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 while Vermont passed a bill creating 75 percent RPS by 2032. Both RPS targets are higher than any other U.S. states.

Ocean Energy to Play Global Role

The Commission for the Environment, Climate Change and Energy of the Committee of Regions has endorsed a recent report that focuses on the development of ocean energy to meet growing demand for renewable energy. The report states the ocean energy sector will make an “important contribution….to meeting the future energy needs of the European Union.”

ocean-energy-europeIn response to the news, Rémi Gruet, CEO Ocean Energy Europe, noted, “The ocean energy industry welcomes this report from the Committee of the Regions, and recognises the strong leadership Europe’s regions have played in driving the sector forward. With the resource anchored at regional level, ocean energy developments will mean fresh economic activity for existing port infrastructures and maritime supply chains.”

The report looks at Europe’s global leadership in the ocean energy sector and the benefits in terms of industrial growth, jobs and exports. The report also underlines both the pivotal role of the EU in pushing the development of the sector and the significant potential that could be unlocked through exploiting synergies between regions, Member States and the EU itself.

“With 100GW of installed capacity by 2050, the ocean energy industry can make a major contribution to Europe’s energy security and decarbonisation goals. This report is particularly timely and correctly identifies the key actions for Europe to maintain its global dominance and benefit from the growth of ocean energy around the world,” added Gruet.

The report supports the European Commission’s Ocean Energy Forum initiative, assigned to draft an industry roadmap by September this year. The final roadmap will be presented to European Ministers during a summit on ocean energy taking place in Dublin, on October 20, 2015.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Pattern Energy Group LP has announced the completion of C$393 million in financing of its 180 MW Meikle Wind power project located in British Columbia, approximately 33 km north of Tumbler Ridge. Meikle Wind, which is expected to commence commercial operation in late 2016, is the largest wind power project in British Columbia.
  • The Geothermal Energy Association is on the committee, speaker list and exhibition floor at the upcoming Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Expo, July 9, 2015 in Washington, DC. This event showcases renewables and energy efficient technologies in a unified event on Capitol Hill. This is an event of the Sustainable Energy Coalition, with the U.S. House Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucus and the U.S. Senate Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucus supporting as honorary hosts.
  • Celtic Bank has announced that it has funded the first commercial project utilizing PACE in the state of Utah. Proceeds from the bond issuance will be used by Hunt Electric to construct a solar canopy utilizing smart grid technology at their offices in West Valley City, UT. Celtic Bank worked in conjunction with Hunt Electric, Utah Clean Energy, and the Governor’s Office of Energy Development to bring the PACE funding structure to Utah.
  • Gardner Capital, Inc., an investment and solar project developer, and MC Power Companies, have announced the commercial operation of a solar farm in Macon, Missouri, as well as the groundbreaking and development plans for an additional solar utility-scale photovoltaic power generation system 80 miles away in Trenton, both totaling 6.5 MW.

Ethanol Report on RFS Hearing and Rally

rfs-worksHundreds of ethanol supporters turned out for a rally and public hearing in Kansas City, Kansas last week on the EPA’s proposed volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). In this edition of the Ethanol Report, we hear from some of those who attended.

ethanol-report-adThe report includes comments and testimony from Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) senior vice president Geoff Cooper, RFA chairman Randy Doyal of Al-Corn Clean Fuel in Minnesota, Jeff Oestmann of East Kansas Agri-Energy and Chris Grundler, Director of EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality.

Listen to or download the Ethanol Report here: Ethanol Report from EPA RFS Hearing and Rally

Pacific Ethanol, Aventine Finalize Merger

pacethanolPacific Ethanol and Aventine have completed their merger. This Pacific Ethanol news release says the merger will make a large impact for both companies and their customers.

Neil Koehler, the company’s president and CEO, stated: “We are pleased to complete this transformative acquisition, establishing Pacific Ethanol as the sixth largest producer of ethanol in the United States. In addition to more than doubling our ethanol production capacity, this synergistic transaction expands our geographic footprint, leverages our existing infrastructure to reach new markets and customers and enhances our overall scale and co-product diversification. We look forward to working with the Aventine employees to achieve a smooth integration and accelerate the growth of our combined company.”

Per the terms of the definitive merger agreement, Aventine stockholders received 1.25 shares of Pacific Ethanol common stock for each share of Aventine common stock owned at closing. As a result, Pacific Ethanol issued approximately 17.76 million shares in the merger, resulting in 42.5 million total shares outstanding as of July 1, 2015. Aventine had term debt of approximately $145 million as of July 1, 2015. Pacific Ethanol will provide information regarding capital plans and synergies when it releases its second quarter 2015 financial results anticipated in late July 2015.

Aventine brings a 100 million gallon per year wet mill and 60 million gallon per year ethanol dry mill located in Pekin, Illinois, and its 110 million gallon per year and 45 million gallon per year dry mills in Aurora, Nebraska, to the deal. Combined with Pacific Ethanol’s current ethanol production capacity of 200 million gallons per year, the combined company will have a total ethanol production capacity of 515 million gallons per year and, together with Pacific Ethanol’s marketing business, is expected to sell over 800 million gallons of ethanol annually.

Biodiesel to Power Swedish Train Line

swedishtrain1A train line in Sweden has plans to convert its fleet to run on biodiesel. This article from Global Rail News says Inlandsbanan AB wants to make the conversion by the year by 2020.

Inlandsbanan AB has received funding from the EU to assess the feasibility of converting its diesel trains to RME, a biodiesel produced from rapeseed.

The initiative would allow Inlandsbanan AB to commit to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions without footing the substantial cost of electrifying the 1,300-kilometre railway between Kristinehamn and Gällivare.

Conversion to biodiesel would reduce the operator’s carbon emissions by 60 per cent, Inlandsbanan AB has said.

Testing will begin later this year.