Kum & Go, E15 Leader #ACE Award Honoree

Jim Pirolli Kum and GoKum & Go is well known in the Midwest, especially in states like Iowa and Nebraska where this year’s #ACE annual Ethanol Conference took place (Omaha). During the event, Jim Pirolli, Vice President of Fuels for Kum & Go talked about his company’s commitment to rolling out E15 stations as well as their efforts to continue to sell more E85. The retailer opened their first E15 station in Des Moines, Iowa recently with 6 more planned over the coming months.

How are they successful? Well, for starters they are price competitive at the pump. Pirolli said that Kum & Go recognizes that alternative fuels such as ethanol support local economies, better for the environment and help them deliver more to the customer than they might expect via an expanded product portfolio and also offering the economic and performance benefits. This summer they have done a very aggressive promotion campaign for E85 in Omaha and also for E15 in Des Moines. He did ask for help in helping to educate consumers about E15.

Listen to Jim Pirolli’s presentation here: Jim Pirolli, Kum & Go

Paul Dana Marketing Vision Award

American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) Ron Lamberty (left) awards Jim Pirolli with Kum & Go the Paul Dana Marketing Vision Award.

Also during the event, Kum & Go was awarded the Paul Dana Marketing Vision Award, to honor a retailer who is supportive of ethanol. Ron Lamberty with ACE noted that the retailer has been an ongoing leader in ethanol selling E10 back in 1979, today as 170 E85 stations in 11 states. He praised them for stepping up for ethanol and for marketing the fuel aggressively and for being a leader in offering E15 to consumers.

Listen to Ron Lamberty’s remarks about Kum and Go here: Kum & Go Honored with Paul Dana Marketing Vision Award

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

MO Lawmakers Support RFS

During a visit to the Missouri State Fair last week, two members of the state’s Congressional delegation were asked their opinions on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed volume obligations for biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

msf-15-72-editedSen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) hopes EPA will listen to the concerns of the industry. “I think it’s important that we become as energy self-sufficient as we can and renewables are an important part of that,” said Blunt during an interview at the fair. “We have great potential in more American energy of all kinds and the potential of how much we can add to that in renewables and what that does to the ag economy and production agriculture generally in terms of that product being available not just for fuel but for food is important.”

Sen. Blunt also comments on EPA’s Clean Water Rule and other issues in this interview: Interview with Senator Roy Blunt

msf-15-101-editedRep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) says EPA tried to come up with a compromise with the proposed rule. “It was better than we hoped in some ways, but it was worse than we had hoped,” said Hartzler. “I think they should have just followed the law and continued on allowing a greater percentage of our fuel to come through renewables. I’m hopeful that we’ll somehow be able to increase that level.”

In this interview, Hartzler also comments on other issues important to farmers in her state. Interview with Congresswomen Vicky Hartzler

New Biodiesel Techs, Feedstocks Help Expand Bioheat

Doug Root works in the world of biofuels in his role with the Ag Utilization Research Institute (AURI) where he looks for new opportunities for Minnesota commodities and co-products. One example: biodiesel. Root spoke during the Biodiesel/Bioheat Forum in Mankato, Minnesota where East met Midwest, or the home of Bioheat met the home of soybean production.

biodiesel-bioheat-15-rootThere are new technologies, explained Root, including new technologies to make biodiesel, new opportunities to utilize the biofuel, and new markets to expand to. There are also opportunities for reduced cost, quality and alternative feedstocks for manufacture of biodiesel or sale into the bioheat market and into the transportation fuels market.

Root said its been exciting to see the biodiesel industry mature and see the improvements in biodiesel quality, year after year to the point where there are virtually no longer low-temperature issues with the biofuel.

You can listen Chuck Zimmerman’s interview with Doug Root here: Doug Root, Ag Utilization Research Institute

Biodiesel/Bioheat Forum Photo Album

NREL Studies E15 Infrastructure

Kristi Moriarty NRELThe National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has been studying current gas retailer’s infrastructure to determine if the equipment is already certified for E15 and flex fuels such as mid-level ethanol blends (E30, E40, E85). If so, the cost to a retailer adding E15 and other ethanol blends will be much less than a retailer who has to upgrade all his/her equipment – a definite cost barrier to more stations adopting emerging ethanol blends.

During the American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) annual Ethanol Conference, held in Omaha, Nebraska, NREL Senior Analyst Kristi Moriarty, discussed the study and demonstrated how retailers can identify opportunities with their current fueling equipment and begin the process of adding E15 as one of their fuel choices.

Listen to Kristi Moriarty’s presentation here: Kristy Moriarty, NREL

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

Hart Home Comfort Adds Bioheat to Usurp Competition

biodiesel-bioheat-15-hartRay Hart with Oakdale, New York-based Hart Home Comfort, is a Bioheat dealer who distributes the biodiesel heating oil blend across New York and Long Island. He spoke during the Biodiesel/Bioheat Forum that took place in Mankato, Minnesota and hosted by Minnesota Soybean. His company was an early adopter of Bioheat and thought it would be a great renewable fuel to set themselves apart from their competition. And it worked.

His company started with one truck and only a few customers and today his company has a fleet, hundreds of customers and their own terminal where they blend the biodiesel into the heating oil. Hart said that along the way there were a few obstacles. At the time they began selling Bioheat no one had heard of the product before. Education is an ongoing challenge, said Hart, who has been selling Bioheat for nine years but noted that more and more customers are asking for the fuel.

Hart said that they try to do everything possible to source the biodiesel as local as possible. He added that the event was a great opportunity to meet some of the people, including the farmers, who are growing the soybeans to make the biodiesel that has helped his business become successful.

You can listen Chuck Zimmerman’s interview with Ray Hart here: Ray Hart, Hart Home Home Comfort

Biodiesel/Bioheat Forum Photo Album

Reign in the EPA Say Republican Candidates

The last batch of Republican presidential candidates took the Soapbox stage during the last weekend of the Iowa State Fair.

Chris ChristieNew Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) took a different approach and only answered questions. His overall statement was that the government needs to enforce the laws currently in place – not just the laws we like- but all laws. Speaking of a law he doesn’t like: the Clean Power Plan. His state has submitted a request to end the program and believes that each state should set their own legislation and develop their own plans. For example, he noted that Iowa is a land of wind, but in the most dense state in the country, solar works better. New Jersey uses solar, natural gas and nuclear and has already met their 2020 clean power goals.

When asked about the Renewable Fuel Standard (#RFS), he said he supports the RFS. The problem is that the Obama Administration along with the EPA is not enforcing the law. He stressed that he is a huge supporter of more energy options and the RFS provides just this and he called out to other candidates to make up their mind on their RFS position.

Listen to why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wants to be president: Chris Christie at the Iowa State Fair

U.S. Senator from Texas Ted Cruz (R) took much of his time to crack jokes about the Democrats andTed Cruz the rest of his time to talk about all the U.S. government executive orders he would rescind along with government organizations he would dismantle including the IRS, Department of Education and all the other ABCs. And Cruz promised he will reign in the regulatory agencies that “descend like locusts on farms and ranches and small businesses.” As for energy, not sure if reigning in the EPA includes revisions (or trying to overturn) the Renewable Fuel Standard, Clean Power Plan or WOTUS.

Listen to why Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz wants to be president: Ted Cruz at the Iowa State Fair

Bobby JindalLouisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) went back to the “by the bootstraps” message. He said this election is all about the American dream, like most other candidates, and how to bring it back. He wants to evolutionize the economy, stop illegal immigration, buff up our military power and curb the power of regulatory agencies such as the EPA who is regulating the “water in our backyards”. He concluded, “I ask you to believe again. Let’s rescue the idea of America before it slips away.”

Listen to why Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal wants to be president: Bobby Jindal at the Iowa State Fair

Mark EversonThe very last presidential candidate to take the stage was Mark Everson (R) who is the former IRS Commissioner. Who better to call for tax reform than the person who knows it best. He said that this campaign, this country, needs a new type of politician (one could argue Donald Trump and Ben Carson are proving this to be true). In that he meant one who isn’t a life-long politician but rather one who knows how to run a business. He stressed that tax reform would get the economy going.

Listen to why Mark Everson, former IRS Commissioner wants to be president: Mark Everson at the Iowa State Fair

And thus concludes our #Energy and #Ag coverage of the Des Moines Register’s Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair. The election is long so the candidates (especially the Democratic candidates) who chose not to address these concerns head on will have some time to get their messages straight before the caucus tentatively scheduled for Monday, February 1, 2016.

#Biodiesel Update at Biodiesel & Bioheat Forum

During the Bioheat and Biodiesel Forum in Mankato, Minnesota, attendees learned about the benefits and opportunities of Bioheat, and also heard an update on the biodiesel industry. Bioheat is heating oil that is blended with biodiesel to reduce its carbon emissions. Bioheat has been on the rise with state legislation that has passed in many northeastern states in an attempt to reduce emissions from all forms of energy. The result of great Bioheat demand? Greater biodiesel demand.

biodiesel-bioheat-15-session-2The second portion of the Forum kicked off with a call-in from Larry Schafer with the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) who gave a state and federal policy update that included a behind-the-scenes look at the political winds in Washington, D.C. He also discussed the fate of the biodiesel tax credit and reviewed policy initiatives in Minnesota.

Listen to Larry Schafer’s remarks here: Larry Schafer, NBB

Doug Root with the Ag Utilization Research Institute and Steve Howell with MARCIV Consulting took the stage next to discuss how the evolution of the industry paired with emerging technologies and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has spurred the biodiesel industry to improve its optimization strategies. Remaining competitive, said Root and Howell, is an integral aspect of keeping domestic biodiesel production competitive.

Listen to Doug Roots remarks here: Doug Root, Ag Utilization Research Institute

Listen to Steve Howell’s remarks here: Steve Howell, MARCIV Consulting

The session was rounded out by Gary Koch with Gislason & Hunter LLP who discussed what’s happening in the marketplace when it comes to investing in biodiesel production ranging from venture capital markets to private companies.

Listen to Gary Koch’s remarks here: Gary Koch, Gislason & Hunter

Biodiesel/Bioheat Forum Photo Album


ace15-novakThe still new CEO of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) addressed the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) annual meeting last week with strong message that they stand behind the industry all the way.

Chris Novak, who took over as NCGA CEO in October of last year, told the ACE members that the state corn grower organizations recently solidified their vision going forward and part of it includes the idea that the ethanol industry is part of feeding the world. “Because the by-products, the DDGS, that are coming through your plants contribute tremendous value and gains to the livestock industry,” he said. “So, not only are you fueling America, you’re also feeding America.”

Novak talked about the latest crop production forecast from USDA for this year’s corn crop, calling for the third largest crop in history, and how that makes the EPA’s decision on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) more important than ever. “Our primary challenge is the size of the corn crop and what we are going to do about that,” he said. “We look at the EPA’s decision with respect to the RVO (Renewable Volume Obligations) basically taking away about 1.5 billion bushels of demand over the next three years.”

Depending on what EPA makes as a final decision in November, Novak says NCGA is already considering legal options. “Our board has … recognized that EPA violated the law, the statute is clear in terms of what the renewable fuel levels should be, and we think the methodology that the EPA chose is wrong – and so we are looking at what legal options we may have to continue to challenge that rule,” said Novak.

Listen to Novak’s address to ACE and an interview with him summarizing those remarks below –

NCGA CEO Chris Novak at ACE Interview with NCGA CEO Chris Novak

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

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

#ACE15 Honors America’s Renewable Future

L-R: Absolute Energy CEO Rick Schwark, ARF co-chair Bill Couser, ARF coordinator Eric Branstad, and ACE EVP Brian Jennings

L-R: Absolute Energy CEO Rick Schwark, ARF co-chair Bill Couser, ARF coordinator Eric Branstad, and ACE EVP Brian Jennings

America’s Renewable Future (ARF) is less than one year old, but what the coalition has accomplished in that short time has been so impressive that the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) recognized them with the organization’s policy and legislative leadership award this year. The coalition was established in January of this year for the sole purpose of educating 2016 presidential candidates about agriculture, biofuels and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Accepting the award at the ACE annual meeting in Omaha this week were two Iowa ethanol advocates – Rick Schwark of Absolute Energy and Bill Couser with Couser Cattle Company who serves as ARF co-chair, as well as the son of Iowa’s governor who was instrumental in the formation of the coalition.

Eric Branstad says right now they are focused on the Iowa caucuses in February. “We are building a team of pledged supporters…pledging to come and caucus for an RFS supporting candidate,” he said. “Right now we have surpassed 25,000 caucus goers and our goal by November 1 is to have 50,000.”

ARF has been very busy this past week at the Iowa State Fair talking to visiting candidates, including Republican front runner Donald Trump. “We had a 40 minute, one-on-one meeting with him,” said Branstad, who added that Trump’s knowledge about ethanol going into the meeting was negligible. By the end of the meeting, after getting a short course on the history and advancements of the industry, Branstad felt they had made an impression. “He said ‘I want to invest!’ so I guess that’s the best compliment we could get from Mr. Trump,” said Branstad.

Listen to my interview with Eric Branstad here: Interview with Eric Branstad, America's Renewable Future

I also talked with ARF co-chair Bill Couser about the organization’s first eight months. “I think one thing we’ve been able to bring out in these candidates is ‘who are you really?’,” said Couser. “You talk about their wives and their kids – we want to know that here in the Midwest.”

Couser says he still wants to get Hillary Clinton out to his operation near Nevada, Iowa. “To get her out on our farms and ranches and actually show her about corn production and show her where ethanol’s made and show her what that’s done for our schools and our roads and how important that is for our country,” he said.

In this interview, Couser also talks about his testimony at the EPA hearing on the Renewable Fuel Standard, his unique perspective as a cattle producer and ethanol advocate, and why he is so involved with the American Coalition for Ethanol: Interview with Bill Couser, America's Renewable Future

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos