Farmers Head to Washington in Defense of the RFS

ncga-logo-newFarmers from around the country are heading to Washington, D.C. today in defense of the RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard). Hundreds of biofuel and agricultural supporters are descending on DC in for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) hearing on the 2014 RFS proposed rules that across the board lower the renewable fuel volumes for next year.

The National Corn Growers Association says by cutting the amount of corn ethanol required by 10 percent it will affect corn prices and rural economies. Farmers plans to tell EPA their personal stories of what such an action would reap across rural America.

More than 30 corn farmers and their allies from around the country are attending the hearing including growers from 13 states including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

20120717-bowling200x250“It’s great to see so many people willing to leave their farms at this time of year for an important opportunity to give the EPA a piece of their mind,” said NCGA First Vice President Chip Bowling, a Maryland corn grower scheduled to speak at the hearing. “This has already had a negative effect on our farms, and if the EPA gets its way, it could cause serious harm to the rural economy – not to mention cutting the environmental benefits of domestic, renewable ethanol.”

For 2014, the EPA has proposed a 1.4 billion gallon reduction in how much corn ethanol will be required under the RFS, the federal law that requires the blending of domestic, renewable, cleaner-burning corn ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply.  Because of the record crop, growers are already seeing corn prices falling below the cost of production, and due to the planting cycle are having to buy inputs such as fertilizer, seed and fuel at much higher prices, Bowling said.

NCGA is strongly urging all its members to comment directly to the EPA about this issue before the Jan. 28, 2014 deadline. More information about how farmers can do this is available here.

China’s Offshore Wind Power Industry on Track

During the 18th Congress of Chinese Communist Party meeting, a call was made to create a “Biological Civilization” strategy that would encompass a plan for more use of green energy including offshore wind. On June 4-6, 2014 Offshore Wind China 2014, Wind Farm O&A China 2014 and Distributed Generation China 2014 are simultaneously taking place at the Shanghai New International Expo Center and Shangri-La’s Kerry Hotel Pudong.

Optimale Bedingungen / Ideal conditionsThe organizers of the June events include Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association, Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Committee, China National Renewable Energy Centre and Shanghai International Exhibition Co., Ltd. The groups have announced they will focus on the seven topics for the conferences in an effort to move the offshore wind industry and green energy industries forward.

1. Experience Wind Power Industry’s Turn-around through Release of Latest Progress on Offshore Wind Projects. Offshore wind power developers along with planning and design organizations will be invited to deliver speeches on progress of offshore wind power projects.

2. Catch New Industry Trends by Bringing together Leading Wind Turbine Manufacturers. Key offshore wind turbines manufacturers, including Vestas / Mitsubishi, Goldwind, Gamesa, United Power, Sinovel, Shanghai Electrics / Siemens and Ming Yang will gather to present the advanced offshore wind technologies.

3. Capture Future Market Opportunities in Sector of Wind Farm Operation and Maintenance. The event features Wind Farm O&M Market to explore life-cycle management and after-sales services of onshore and offshore wind farms.

4. Provide Full-range Solutions with Focus on Offshore Installation and Construction. With a focus on offshore installations and construction, leading offshore installation companies including CCCC Third, ZPMC, Jiangsu Longyuan Zhenhua, CCCC Fourth will gather at this event to showcase installation equipments and share practical experiences.

5. Join Hands with Leading Wind Power Nations to Share in Advanced Experience. Attendees will meet with associations and delegations from developed countries including U.K., Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and U.S. to have exchanges with overseas firms.

6. Improve Trade Mechanism by Expanding On-site Communications and Negotiations. The event will further enhance the trade mechanism to hold “On-Site Match-making Meetings between Turbine Manufacturers and Components Suppliers”.

7. Witness Offshore Mega Project by Visiting Offshore Wind Farm under Construction. Attendees will have opportunity to visit East Sea Bridge Offshore Wind Farm (Phase II) during its construction stage, and the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, the first of its kind in China.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFGROWMARK, Inc. has acquired the Canton, South Dakota Propane Terminal from Magellan Pipeline Company, L.P. This acquisition will bolster GROWMARK’s access to propane, expand its propane storage capacity, and enhance GROWMARK’s ability to provide a reliable supply of propane to its members and customers. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
  • Registration is open for the upcoming 2014 National Biodiesel Conference and Expo. The event is taking place January 20-23, 2014 in San Diego. The forecast for the conference: mostly sunny with a strong chance of success. Click here to register before early bird rates fly away.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) have released the 2014 Fuel Economy Guide, providing consumers with a valuable resource to identify and choose the most fuel efficient and low greenhouse gas emitting vehicles that meet their needs. The 2014 models include efficient and low-emission vehicles in a variety of classes and sizes, ensuring a wide variety of choices available for consumers.
  • Renew Energy Resources, Inc. has launched Vertically Integrated Renewable Solutions, a new and progressive way of creating profitable renewable energy through vertical integration and end-to-end supply chain management, partnerships, and ownership. This concept was first filed in the company’s 2007 10K and has been in constant revision and experimentation since then. The company anticipates rolling out multiple partnerships, acquisitions and operating opportunities first in biodiesel and then in sucrose-based ethanol. The initial phase of the plan is anticipated to commence in Q-1 2014.

E85 Sales in Iowa Strong

E85 pump handleE85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline) sales in Iowa remain strong with the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) announcing that third quarter sales were the second highest on record, doubling first quarter 2013 numbers. Iowans purchased more than 3.61 million gallons of E85 in the third quarter, nearly double the 1.83 million gallons purchased in the first quarter. The data was released by the Iowa Department of Revenue.

“These astounding third quarter sales numbers prove the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was working, but now the EPA is trying to pull the rug out from underneath us,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “During the third quarter, Iowa motorists using E85 routinely saved $1.00 per gallon compared to regular gasoline. But when the EPA announced their proposal to gut the 2014 RFS numbers, they gutted the incentive for retailers to promote low-cost E85. We saw the E85 price savings pull back, and it won’t be surprising if fourth quarter E85 sales taper off as well.”

The IRFA recently launched a wholesale E85 price reporting service with wholesale E85 prices posted every Tuesday, to promote greater transparency for retailers and distributors of E85 in order to aid retailers in supplying their customers with the lowest-cost E85 available.

Ecosphere Receives U.S. Patent for Ecos PowerCube

Ecosphere Technologies, Inc. has announced that the United States Patent & Trademark Office has approved U.S. Patent No. 8,593,102 for Ecosphere’s Ecos PowerCube® – a portable, self-contained micro-utility that uses solar power to provide electricity in the most remote, off-grid locations. Designed to meet the growing demand for off-grid energy, with a unique array of stacked solar panels, the Ecos PowerCube maximizes the total amount Ecos PowerCubeof solar power generation possible in 10’, 20’ and 40’ standard ISO shipping container footprints. With power generation capabilities up to 15 KW, the technology can be transported by land, air, or sea and is ideally suited to support off-grid military, disaster relief, humanitarian and mobile communication efforts.

The company says electricity generated by the Ecos PowerCube can be used to power various onboard systems including satellite communications, Internet connectivity, and mobile water treatment systems. The system can also be used to supply military or disaster relief teams with life-sustaining, mobile infrastructure modules, such as hospitals, command centers, sleeping quarters, and temporary schools.

Dennis McGuire, Chairman and CEO of Ecosphere Technologies, said, “We are pleased to finally announce the U.S Patent Office’s decision to grant our Ecos PowerCube patent and the commercial launch of the Ecos PowerCube product line. We believe the Ecos PowerCube addresses significant infrastructure deficiencies in remote field camp installations or when responding to large-scale disasters. Consistent with Ecosphere’s business model, we are seeking to license the Ecos PowerCube to a wide range of entities, including branches of the U.S. and global armed forces, as well as corporations that provide equipment for the military and a wide variety of disaster relief agencies worldwide.”

With the Army embracing renewables to make the business of war safer for soldiers, Ecosphere believes the Ecos PowerCube system is ideal for the military. In May 2013, the Army announced plans to spend $7 billion buying electricity generated by solar, wind, geothermal and biomass projects over the next three decades.

“The Army’s target is to install 1 gigawatt of renewable capacity in the U.S. by 2025 and to reduce non-tactical fuel consumption 30 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels,” said Dean Becker, director and intellectual property strategist for Ecosphere. “The Ecos PowerCube is the world’s most powerful mobile solar powered generator that can ship in standard 10 to 40 foot ISO container dimensions. It can be shipped by truck, rail, air, and sea – just like a standard shipping container.”

Becker added, “When you ship and deploy an Ecos PowerCube, there is no assembly required. Press a button and the solar panels deploy, producing power from the sun. It is a revolutionary solar design that the U.S. Patent Office recognized as being unique and patentable. Unlike conventional solar arrays systems that are placed on the ground or on top of containers, Ecosphere’s patented solar arrays can be retracted to protect the panels in the kind of inclement weather that is prevalent in war zones or disaster relief type scenarios.”

Global Effort to Bring Clean Energy Amps Up

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim have announced a concerted effort by governments, international agencies, civil society and private sector to mobilize financing to deliver universal access to modern energy services such as lighting, clean cooking solutions, and power for productive uses in 567790-uncity-1bdeveloping countries, as well as scaled-up energy efficiency, especially in the world’s highest-energy consuming countries.

After a meeting of the Advisory Board of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4ALL), which they co-chaired, they welcomed the growing momentum. “Energy powers growth and opportunity,” said the UN Secretary-General. “We count on all actors to lead by example in scaling up and accelerating action that will provide clean, efficient and sustainable energy for all. Today’s many announcements are a testament to the resolve of partners to chart a path forward.” Continue reading

Alliant Energy Cuts Energy Efficiency Goals

The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) today approved Alliant Energy’s plan to scale back energy efficiency goals at the same time the utility is pursuing a new $920 million plant in Marshalltown, Iowa. According to the Environmental Law & Policy Center Alliant is punting on a chance to lead on energy efficiency and ensuring the utility’s Iowa customers will pay higher electric bills for years.

Alliant-Energy“At a time when Iowa is defining its energy future, the IUB could have advanced Iowa’s leadership on energy efficiency, but instead it put that leadership in doubt,” said Josh Mandelbaum, staff attorney for the Environmental Law & Policy Center, part of a coalition of environmental groups who intervened in the proceedings. “Energy efficiency creates jobs and is the most cost effective way to meet demand for power, but instead we are taking the expensive path of new power plants.”

The new goals represent less than half the efficiency progress possible through cost-effective means even under the utility’s own analysis, commissioned in 2012. The decision comes at a time when many states in the Midwest and nationally are increasing the amount of energy saved, not reducing those savings.

“It is disappointing that the Board approved savings goals for Alliant Energy that leaves significant amounts of cost-effective energy efficiency on the table,” said Nathaniel Baer, energy program director at the Iowa Environmental Council. Energy efficiency is most valuable when new generation is needed, and a precursor to approving plans for a newer power plant should be to ensure that we are implementing all of the available cost-effective energy efficiency.”

Under the new goals, Alliant will attempt to save 1.1 percent in retail sales each year over the next five years. This is a sharp reduction from both the utility’s current goal of 1.3 percent or its recent performance of 1.4 percent. Continue reading

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe benefits of energy efficiency have been largely out of reach for many of the more than 20 million U.S. families living in apartment or condo buildings that are often underserved by energy efficiency programs. A new report, Apartment Hunters: Programs Searching for Energy Savings in Multifamily Buildings, released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), offers advice to utilities on how to deliver energy efficiency to their multifamily customers.
  • Green Biologics announced the closing of a $25 million Series B round led by Sofinnova Partners with strategic participation by Swire Pacific Limited. Follow on investments were also made by Capricorn Venture Partners, Oxford Capital Partners, Morningside Ventures and ConvergInce Holdings LLC. The company also noted that following on from the announcement on July 2nd, an asset purchase agreement has been executed and approved by Central MN Ethanol Co-op shareholders last week. The aim is to retrofit the 23 Mgy plant to produce renewable n-butanol and acetone in 2016.
  • The 11th International Specialist Conference on Biofuels will be held on January 20-21, 2014 in Berlin. There will be several forums including Biomass Demand for Biofuel Production that will provide an overview on global developments in biofuel consumption and production in relation to international political funding frameworks, and a session that will discuss possible raw material price forecasts. Click here for program and registration information.
  • New iPhone app Wing Whackers is a game designed to minimize the toll taken on aviation life, in particular via wind farms. The creators of the app say the game provides a fun and interactive way for children and adults of all ages to learn about birds, energy, and the environment while being able to support and save the lives of some of the world’s most amazing avian heroes.

EPA RFS Proposal: A Slap in the Face of Vets

Darrell Rakestraw joined the military in 1982. A local boy who grew up on a centennial farm near Annawan, Illinois, he served his country in the army for nearly 20 years before retiring and moving back home with his family.

Darrell Rakestraw

Veteran Darrell Rakestraw signs the Support the RFS We the People petition that he created on behalf of Patriot Renewable Fuels. He encourages everyone who believes in energy security to help fight the good fight and sign the petition.

During the time he was stationed in Germany, he came home on leave and heard everyone talking about how America was fighting for oil.

“As a solder I found that hard to believe that we were fighting for oil,” said Rakestraw. “I thought we were fighting for a cause – for an injustice being done to Kuwait at that time.”

After retiring in 2002, he continued to support American troops until he retired and began his second career: working for the local ethanol plant Patriot Renewable Fuels. Rakestraw said heralding from a farm, agriculture and ethanol were very tied together.

Then on November 15, 2013 his view of why America is at war changed. This is the day the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its 2014 proposed renewable fuel volumes for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Rakestraw said this is the moment he realized that America is in fact fighting for oil. “This proposal is now telling me it is the truth. So is that what we’ve been fighting for all this time?”

“I look at it like a slap in the face for me as a veteran,” continued Rakestraw. “To every veteran out there. For all the men and women who are still serving. And I really think that Big Oil is dancing on the graves of all the soldiers who sacrificed their lives. It’s a wrong decision to make. We have to get less dependent on foreign oil. This really woke me up.”

He knows that other veterans feel the same way as he and is encouraging people to fight for the RFS. On behalf of Patriot Renewable Fuels, Rakestraw created a WhiteHouse.gov “We the People” petition in support of the RFS, and encourages everyone who believes in this fight to sign the petition.

“We’re doing this for our soldiers. We’re doing this for our farmers. We’re doing this for our rural economies. We’re doing this for ethanol supporters and ethanol producers,” said Rakestraw who stresses that if the proposed 2014 RFS rule passes, it will a huge, negative effect on both the biofuels industry as well as the ag industry.

When asked what it was that he really wants Americans to know right now Rakestraw answered, “They need to realize we will continue to commit our mothers and fathers and our sons and daughters to wars in foreign lands. They may claim its in the name of humanity, but a lot of time it’s in the name of Big OIl.”

“And we’ve got to stop that.”

Check out the Patriot Renewable Fuels Photo Album.

Book Review – Ruminations on the Distortion of Oil

I recently finished reading the book, “Ruminations on the Distortion of Oil Prices & Crony Capitalism,” by Raymond J. Learsy. The book was a historical review of his writings dealing with Big Oil and why oil prices are so high. In other words, “an overview of…our enslavement to oil and the money inextricably tied to it.”

Ruminations-Book-CoverA former commodity trader, Learsy noted that oil prices are gamed and have little to do with market discipline of supply and demand. He explains in the book how commodity markets work (you really have no idea until you read the book and listen to his interview). In fact, Learsy writes that “This administration [Obama administration] has a profound lack of understanding of how oil markets function.” He also says there is no real oversight by our government over the oil industry or over the workings of the OPEC Cartel (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries).

He notes that no global industry is wealthier than the oil industry and the countries that produce the oil. He explains that the oil industry and traders play the commodity market in a way that maximizes the price for oil. He said that a barrel of oil should not be hovering around $100. Rather, according to the CEO of Exxon/Mobil Rex Tillerson who stated during Congressional testimony in 2011, speculation was adding $30 to $40 to the price of each barrel.

“Six hundred million dollars a day is going from consumers to oil interests each day. This is money that is being stolen out of consumers’ pockets everyday,” said Learsy.

He also points out that in President Obama’s diversified energy strategy, natural gas is not included. Today he explains the U.S. has an abundance of affordable natural gas that is being burned off because there are not enough pipelines to transport it.

This book specifically focuses and on uncovering who is responsible for soaring gas prices. If you want to know as well, then read this book. It is available on Amazon.

Listen to my in-depth interview with Raymond Learsy. BTW – You will enjoy what Learsy would do if he were president for a day to fix the oil price situation. Interview with Author Raymond Learsy

Win a copy of Ruminations on the Distortions of Oil Prices & Crony Capitalism. Email me with the subject line “Ruminations Book Giveaway” by Tuesday, December 10, 2013. The winner will be announced in the DF newsletter on December 11th.