Bioheat Great Option for Winter Heating

biodiesel-bioheat-15-huberJohn Huber is the President of the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA), the checkoff program for the oilheat industry. This week he was in Mankato, Minnesota participating in the Biodiesel & Bioheat Forum. His organization does research and development to create new equipment and new products for the industry and educates consumers on how to save energy. One solution, especially for those living in the Northeast? Bioheat.

Huber says Bioheat, heating oil blended by 2-5 percent biodiesel, has been a educational priority for them because it enables consumers to being integrating renewable energy into their home or businesses. In the Northeast in particular, many states have adopted an 80 percent carbon reduction by 2050 and Bioheat is a great solution to meet this goal.

To learn more about the benefits and growth opportunities for Bioheat, listen to Chuck Zimmerman’s interview with John Huber here: John Huber, NORA

Biodiesel/Bioheat Forum Photo Album

NEB’s Todd Sneller Awarded #ACE Merle Anderson Award

Todd Sneller was honored with the Merle Anderson award during the American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) 28th annual Ethanol Conference in Omaha, Nebraska. Well-deserved, Todd Sneller, executive director of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, has had a long and prosperous career in the ethanol industry. He became the first person to run the state organization (the one and only of its kind) back in the late 70s when he was 25 years old. At the time ethanol was still known as gasohol and had no idea how far ethanol would go.

Doug Durante presents Todd Sneller, with the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) the Merle Anderson Award during the 28th Annual ACE Ethanol Conference in Omaha, Nebraska. (Todd Sneller on left and Doug Durante on right.)

Doug Durante presents Todd Sneller, with the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) the Merle Anderson Award during the 28th Annual ACE Ethanol Conference in Omaha, Nebraska. (Todd Sneller on left and Doug Durante on right.)

Sneller has traveled the country working with committees, testifying and working with younger ethanol organizations to help ethanol take off. Back in the 70s there were no ethanol plants in Nebraska. Today Nebraska has the second largest ethanol nameplate capacity and is the second largest ethanol producing state in the country with 25 ethanol plants producing more than 2 billion gallons of ethanol.

When asked how it felt to win such a prestigious award, Sneller replied, “Well I think anytime one is in a room with one’s peers, that’s really that special moment to be acknowledged for something to be around the people you have enjoyed working with and respect.”

Going forward, Sneller is mentoring the younger generation – young men and women who are just entering the industry. He is also excited to see how the ethanol plant will evolve to become a biotech campus, producing fuel, feed, fiber, chemicals, and more and plans to be involved in this process.

Todd, on behalf of the entire ethanol industry, here’s to another 30 years in the ethanol industry!

Listen to Todd Sneller’s interview here: Todd Sneller on Winning Merle Anderson Award

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

Comanche Solar Farm Breaks Ground

The 156 MW Comanche Solar project located in Pueblo, Colorado has broken ground. When completed, SunEdison, project owner, said it will be the largest solar power plant east of the Rocky Mountains and the largest in Colorado. The farm will product more than 300 gigawatt-hours of energy per year.

“The Comanche Solar project demonstrates SunEdison’s ability to deliver renewable energy at a price competitive with conventional resources,” said Paul Gaynor, SunEdison executive vice president for EMEA and the Americas. “In addition, the Comanche Solar project will be financed through SunEdison’s $1.5 billion non-recourse, First Reserve Warehouse. This facility is designed to expand as projects move into construction without incremental equity contributions by SunEdison.”

SunEdison Comanche Solar groundbreakingPublic Service Company of Colorado, a subsidiary of Xcel Energy, will purchase electricity generated by the solar power plant under a 25-year power purchase agreement with SunEdison. The power contract was awarded as part of an open solicitation where Comanche Solar was selected as preferred to other forms of energy, including natural gas.

“SunEdison, through the Comanche Solar project, is helping move us in the right direction. It demonstrates that large-scale solar power can play an increasingly larger role in our customers’ energy future at a competitive price point,” added David Eves, president of Public Service Company of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company. “Our participation in this project demonstrates that Xcel Energy is committed to providing customers the clean energy they want, at an affordable price.”

Construction has commenced on the project and will be managed by Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. (RES), based in Broomfield, Colo., a leader in the development, engineering, and construction of wind, solar, transmission and energy storage projects.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Duke Energy has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for about 53 megawatts (AC) of utility-scale solar capacity to be in-service in its South Carolina service areas by the end of 2016. The announcement is another step forward in Duke Energy’s Distributed Energy Resource Program, which was approved by the Public Service Commission on July 15. It marks an important milestone in realizing the vision of Act 236, or the Distributed Energy Resource Act of 2014.
  • SolarReserve has received environmental approval from the Chilean government to develop one of the world’s largest solar projects with energy storage. Utilizing SolarReserve’s proprietary solar thermal energy storage technology, the Copiapó Solar Project, scheduled to reach commercial operation in 2019, will deliver 260 MW of reliable, clean, non-intermittent baseload power 24 hours a day to consumers of the central interconnected system (SIC).
  • ECOHZ has become the first global CDP Gold Renewable Energy Partner. ECOHZ and CDP are partnering to share knowledge, work together and serve the renewable energy community to make it more attractive, easier and more efficient for energy consumers to switch to or consume more renewable energy.
  • In the UK, following its successful run, the Scottish Biofuel Programme has been awarded a combined GBP219,000 from funders Zero Waste Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and Transport Scotland as part of a quarter of a million pound programme to continue its support to Scottish business until the end of 2015. The Programme, which is hosted by the Biofuel Research Centre at Edinburgh Napier University, supports businesses to realise value from unavoidable organic residues by processing to renewable energy.

RFA to AMA: Stop Propagating E15 Untruths

As the biofuels industry celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is calling on consumers to support legislation to stop the use and sales of E15 (15 percent ethanol/85 percent gasoline). In a press release AMA states, “The first 10 years under the Renewable Fuel Standard, established in 2005, represent a decade of misinformation from the ethanol lobby concerning safe fuel for your motorcycle.”

sturgis-15-1The Association is calling on motorcyclists to contact their representative and ask him/her to cosponsor the RFS Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 704) sponsored by U.S Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Peter Welch (D-VT). The bill would amend the RFS and prohibit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from allowing any station to sell gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol (E10) and require those selling E15 to stop.

In response to AMA, the Renewable Fuels Association’s (RFA) Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White said, “Once again, the AMA is engaging in scare tactics and spreading misinformation about E15. It’s nothing we haven’t heard before. AMA’s claims that E15 will suddenly become available at every fuel station in the country and replace E10, so that there will no longer be any legal fuel for motorcycles to use, are patently false. E15 has been on the market for three years and no motorcycle has misfueled using the higher ethanol blend or has been denied a warranty claim. Plus, the AMA ignores the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that the fuel dispenser label clearly identify what vehicles can and cannot use E15. Does the AMA believe that motorcyclists can’t read?”

White said that the availability for motorcycles to use E10, which is approved for use in motorcycle engines, increased last year, and that more E10 than E0 was sold last year than in the previous year. Earlier this month, RFA was at the 75th Anniversary of Sturgis where they spoke with bikers about ethanol.

“The AMA has gone to great lengths to confuse what the RFS means for consumers,” White continued. “The law states that gasoline refiners and importers must purchase and blend renewable fuels with gasoline and diesel, or purchase credits. Most producers choose to blend renewable fuels because ethanol is cheaper than gasoline and has an octane rating of 113, but the availability of credits assures no marketer will ever have to offer higher level ethanol blends if they don’t want to.” Continue reading

Vivent Solar & Google Team on Project Sunroof

Vivent Solar is teaming up with Google on “Project Sunroof,” a new online tool created by Google that provides homeowners with custom solar information for their home. It works through high-resolution aerial mapping (Google Earth technology) to help calculate a roof’s solar energy potential.

Project Sunroof computes how much sunlight hits your roof in a year in part using Google Map technology.

Project Sunroof computes how much sunlight hits your roof in a year in part using Google Map technology.

“Vivint Solar teaming up with Google is giving homeowners across the country immediate insight, information and access to rooftop solar power—that’s good for everyone,” said Greg Butterfield, CEO of Vivint Solar.

The new online tool is being tested in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as Fresno, both in California, and greater Boston. The program will tell the homeowner how much sunlight hits their rooftop throughout the year while factoring in roof orientation, shade from trees and nearby buildings, and local weather patterns. A homeowner can also enter their typical electric bill cost for more customized results. The tool will combine the information to estimate the amount a homeowner could potentially save with solar panels, and it can help connect them with local solar providers, like Vivint Solar.

“Vivint Solar has created an incredible product that’s revolutionizing the energy market,” said Dwain Kinghorn, chief strategy and innovations officer at Vivint Solar. “It’s simple. It’s affordable. And together with Google, we’re able to let customers all over the country know that solar power is a lot simpler and more affordable than they might have thought.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Renewable Energy Group (REG) completed its acquisition of substantially all the assets of Imperium Renewables, Inc. REG paid Imperium $15.0 million in cash and issued 1.675 million shares of REG common stock in exchange for substantially all of Imperium’s assets, including the 100-million gallon nameplate biodiesel refinery and terminal at the Port of Grays Harbor, WA. For two years post-closing, Imperium may receive up to $0.05/gallon for biodiesel produced and sold at Grays Harbor.
  • The 4th Hydro Plant Maintenance & Reliability Conference is taking place November 3, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. This marcus evans conference will showcase the latest innovations with regards to: asset categorization; methods for rehabilitation & replacement of assets; overcoming challenges associated with skilled labor retention & recruitment; and utilizing asset specific systems.
  • Through its easy-to-use online platform, Solar CrowdSource gives users access to more affordable alternative energy with three unique solar energy programs. Specializing in providing solar crowdsourcing opportunities for local governments, utilities, communities and individuals alike, the first comprehensive solar platform of its kind in the U.S. brings together Community Solar, Solarize and Crowdfunding programs in one place for Georgians to go in on the cost of solar together. The results are lower electric bills, greener communities and smart investments.
  • Energy Storage North America (ESNA), the largest and most influential gathering of policy, technology and market leaders in energy storage, today announced finalists for the 2015 ESNA Innovation Awards, recognizing excellence in energy storage project development. The nine finalists represent outstanding project achievements across three categories: Centralized Storage (utility-scale), Distributed Storage (commercial, industrial or residential) and Mobility (transportation, electric vehicles and enabling infrastructure). Visit the ESNA awards website to learn more about the projects and how to cast your vote. Registration for ESNA 2015 is now open.

Broward Schools Finds Success with Propane

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS), located in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, has seen success since changing its bus fleet to run on propane autogas. Analysis has found that the Student Transportation and Fleet Services Department reduced its annual operating costs more than $600,000. BCPS began using 98 of the propane autogas fueled school buses, made by Blue Bird, in the 2014/15 school year.

“Providing safe and efficient transportation for our students is always our priority,” said Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert W. Runcie. “The fuel and maintenance savings from our buses using propane autogas has allowed us to reduce our expenses for transporting students to and from school.”

gI_85828_Broward County Schools Propane BusThe analysis found that the district paid an average of $1.32 per gallon for propane and $2.75 for diesel over the last year. In addition to fuel savings, annual maintenance costs for the alternatively fueled buses amounted to 80 percent less than for their diesel buses.

The sixth largest school system in the nation, BCPS operates 1,269 school buses, including the 98 fueled by propane autogas. Each bus travels an average of 16,500 miles per year, transporting approximately 75,000 students. BCPS expects to save more than $74,000 in operating costs over the 12-year lifecycle of each propane autogas bus, which equates to about 38 cents per mile savings.

“After researching the direction of school bus transportation, we decided propane was the best fit and the best use of taxpayer dollars,” said Patricia Snell, director of student transportation and fleet services for BCPS. “We’ve been thrilled with the savings, as well as the performance of the buses.”

BCPS budgeted for a six-month return on investment of the initial propane engine upcharge, but according to the analysis, recouped that cost in three months. The Blue Bird Propane Vision buses had an incremental cost of less than 3 percent more than their diesel counterparts. The school district has ordered 37 additional propane autogas buses for the 2015/16 school year.

Perry Urges Return to “Constitutional Country”

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s main message on the soapbox yesterday at the Iowa State Fair was to get America back to a constitutional country. Citing the 10th amendment, he stressed that power and decision making needs to go back to the state and to the people, as intended by our founding fathers. Power needs to be taken away from a corrupt Washington, D.C.

Rick Perry“I’m mad as hell and I’m going to do something to change it,” said Perry if he is elected.

He also believes that educational curriculum, health insurance and transportation infrastructure should be brought back to the state and not dictated by the government. He wants to secure the border and strengthen the military. “People have belly full of decisions made 1,500 miles away instead of right here in this state,” he said. “I think it was Dwight D. Eisenhower who said It’s pretty easy to farm when your plow is a pencil and you’re 1,500 miles away from the farm. And that’s what we’re seeing today as we see this continual consolidation of power in Washington, D.C.,” added Perry.

Throughout his speech he said continually said he would bring the constitution back as a guide for the country – a place we got away from and need to go back to in order to bring back strength, prosperity and the American dream to the people. The former state agriculture commissioner for Texas did not take questions nor did he address energy or ag in any detail while on stage.

Listen to why former Texas Governor Rick Perry wants to be president: Rick Perry at the Iowa State Fair

Click here to read our coverage of the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair.

Prez Candidates Tell ‘Bootstraps’ Stories

I’ve hit on a few common themes in recent posts after hearing more than a dozen soapbox speeches at the Iowa State Fair. Another one: how the presidential candidates’ parents succeeded with nothing to make life better for their children and the children pulling themselves up by their “bootstraps” to become successful.

Marco RubioThese stories were no different when Florida Senator Marcus Rubio and Ohio Governor John Kasich took the stage. Rubio’s parents immigrated from Cuba. He noted that America doesn’t owe him, he owes America. He also said that he wants to continue living in a country where what his parents did for him he can do for his children. But that dream, he said, is slipping away. How can the country bring back the American dream? He said the first step is addressing the economy. “We’re not just facing an economic downturn, we’re facing an economic revolution….We need to modernize economic policies so we can compete with the rest of the world.”

He also stressed the need to keep our people safe and noted that America is not fully utilizing its energy resources. Like many before him, other than a passing comment, he did not address energy, environment and agriculture.

Listen to why Florida Senator Marcus Rubio wants to be president:Marcus Rubio at the Iowa State Fair

John KasichOhio Governor John Kasich also shared his “bootstrap” story and shared other antidotes rather than really hitting hard on any particular issue. However, during the question portion he was asked his position on agriculture. He answered, “I’m for agriculture. You listen to Terry Branstad [Iowa Governor] and you think about traditional agriculture but what we really have to do is begin to think about how agriculture is going to look like in the next 20 or 25 years. I believe there are so many products that can come from traditional agriculture that can improve the lives of all Americans. And I keep pushing our people to think about that, to use our universities to do the research and to make sure that agriculture and business is closely linked together so that we can spawn new industries out of agriculture.”

“We’re lucky in Ohio,” Kasich continued. “We found natural gas and one of the great things about that is it’s allowing us to become energy independent. So we don’t have to kowtow to the Saudies anymore when it comes down to conducting our foreign policy. We need to look into the future on all of these things, on agriculture, on energy.”

Listen to why Ohio Governor John Kasich wants to be president: John Kasich at the Iowa State Fair

Click here to read our coverage of the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair.