Ethanol to Help Fuel 75th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

rfa-sturgis14-fuelThe Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) will once again partner with the Buffalo Chip Campground at the 75th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which will be held Aug. 3-9 in Sturgis, South Dakota. More than 1.5 million motorcycle enthusiasts are expected to attend the event this year for the big anniversary and RFA Vice President for Industry Relations Robert White the event offers a perfect venue to dispel some of the misconceptions about the use of ethanol blended fuel in motorcycles.

“We do that around the “Free Fuel Happy Hours,” said White. “From Sunday August 2nd through Thursday August 6 from 1 to 4 pm, any motorcyclist can come up and fuel for free with 93 octane 10 percent ethanol.” This is the fourth year that RFA has sponsored the free fuel happy hours and White says it also offers them the opportunity to talk one on one with bikers and provide them with information about ethanol.

sturgis-guideIn addition, White says messages about ethanol can be found throughout the Buffalo Chip Campground during the rally. “We have everything from banners to commercials on the Jumbotron at the main stage and we sponsor the Essentials Guide that goes out to every camper this year,” said White.

The event sponsorship has become more important in the last 2-3 years as the oil industry has worked with the motorcycle association to spread misinformation about 15% ethanol, which is not approved for use in motorcycles – a fact which is stated clearly on all pumps that sell E15. But White says the information they provide goes beyond motorcycles. “If there is 1.6 million or more people there, they all own lawnmowers, cars, trucks, SUVs, boats back at home,” he added.

Listen to this edition of “The Ethanol Report” where White talks about what they will be doing in Sturgis to connect with those attending and help them come away with a better understanding of ethanol. Ethanol Report Preview of 2015 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Corn Growers: Build it and They Will Come

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) has announced an additional $500,000 investment in Prime the Pump, a program that is expanding midlevel ethanol fueling infrastructure. The latest funds brings NCGA’s annual commitment in the program to $2 million. The organizations overseeing the E15-Blender-Pump-in-Cresco-IowaPrime the Pump program will use the monies as matching funds to secure grants under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USFA) Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership. The USDA has allocated $100 million in grants.

“The nation’s corn farmers have shown their commitment to domestically produced, clean burning ethanol repeatedly over the last 30 years and, when needed, have put their money where their mouth is,” said Chip Bowling, president of NCGA and a farmer from Newburg, Maryland. “Consumers should have fuel options that include cleaner burning ethanol and this investment will allow us to continue to move forward toward that important goal.”

Prime the Pump is aimed at retailers with high volumes and multiple locations. Retailers have to commit to a five-year marketing program, E15 must be offered at all dispensers under the canopy, signage on the street must include E15 and retailers must agree to actively promote the fuel.

“Big Oil and others opposed to ethanol keep setting up road blocks, so we need to work all the more to ensure domestic renewable ethanol moves forward,” added Bowling. “Family corn farmers are faced with the lowest corn prices in more than a decade and increased ethanol utilization is an efficient way to turn that around and help the U.S. economy and environment at the same time.”

NREL Expert on E15 Infrastructure at ACE

aceA senior National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) analyst will discuss E15 infrastructure at the upcoming American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) Conference. This ACE news release says Kristi Moriarty, the principle author of a recent government report examining the compatibility of existing fuel station infrastructure for E15, will speak during the conference August 20 in Omaha, Nebraska.

“One reason the ethanol industry petitioned EPA to approve the use of E15 is because existing standards indicated the blend was compatible with most existing equipment,” said ACE Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty. “Unfortunately, gas station owners have been misled by ethanol detractors into believing that adding E15 would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in new equipment. We’re looking forward to hearing from Kristi Moriarty, the lead author of the NREL report which destroys the E15 compatibility and cost myths,” said Lamberty.

The theme of the August 19-21 ACE Conference is “Quiet Ingenuity, Bold Advance.” The event will also feature a talk on technology and advanced biofuel innovations involving Ray Defenbaugh, President and CEO of Big River Resources LLC, Delayne Johnson, CEO of Quad County Corn Processors, and Jeff Oestmann, President and CEO of East Kansas Agri-Energy, LLC, a retailer panel discussion on E15 and flex fuel sales, a progress report on ethanol and DDGs exports, ethanol plant board member training, and much more.

This link has more information on the ACE Conference.

Minnesota Gov Signs E15 Dispenser Bill

MnBiofuelsMinnesota’s governor has signed into law a measure that will help fuel retailers sell the 15 percent blend of ethanol, E15. This news release from the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association says the new law kicks in on July 1 and will provide funds for the retailers to convert their pumps to handle the higher blend.

The Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association played a key role in getting the E15 Dispenser Bill included in the Agriculture and Environment bill and generated support for it from members of the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives.

Under the bill, $500,000 in grants will be disbursed over a two-year period to help fuel retailers make simple upgrades to their fuel dispensers so that they can offer E15.

These upgrades include simple calibrations, meters, valve assembles, seals, hanging hardware and in some limited cases, a new dispenser.

The measure is part of a larger piece of legislation that has the state setting a goal to reduce GHG emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. E15 produces fewer GHG emissions and could save the state 358,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, the equivalent of removing 75,368 cars from the road.

Enogen Press Conference at Iowa Speedway

Engine Press ConferenceToday Syngenta announced a major donation to the Prime the Pump fund, an industry initiative to help early retail adopters of high-level ethanol blends through grants to reduce their initial investment in infrastructure. On the pane (l-r) are Chris Tingle, Syngenta; Ray Defenbaugh, Prime the Pump; Kelly Manning, Growth Energy; Delayne Johnson, Quad County Corn Processors and Chris Soule, Iowa farmer and star of ABC’s The Bachelor and Dancing With the Stars.

Syngenta says it will donate approximately $600,000 to the initiative by contributing $1 for every acre planted with Enogen corn enzyme technology. This effort stated in 2013 and is being extended to 2016. Besides the money being raised for the Prime the Pump initiative, the FFA students here today helping collect money for the fund will be receiving matching dollars for the money they raise. So, when you look at the value to the ethanol plants of Enogen corn which already has a vital enzyme for processing which saves the plant money; the fact that farmers growing Enogen corn are receiving a significant bonus incentive on the price of their corn; the fact that this initiative is helping expand the market and use of ethanol and local FFA chapters are benefitting, it seems like a win-win for everyone.

I have recorded the full press conference for you to listen to here: Syngenta Enogen Press Conference

2015 American Ethanol 200 Presented by Enogen Photo Album

Coverage of the American Ethanol 200 sponsored by Enogen
Coverage of the American Ethanol 200 is sponsored by Enogen

E15 Goes on Summer Vacation – Again

Ankeny-MagRd1On the heels of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) cutting of the amount of ethanol required to be mixed into the nation’s fuel supply, the agency’s inaction on another front means 15% ethanol blended fuel is going on summer vacation again as the government forces retailers in many areas to needlessly restrict E15 sales to flex-fuel vehicles (FFV) only from June 1 through September 15.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw calls June 1 Petroleum Monopoly Day. “Iowans want to buy E15 and retailers want to sell it, but the EPA has yet again put the power in the hands of Big Oil to restrict the option of E15,” said Shaw. “This blatant market manipulation is proof positive that we need a strong RFS to crack the petroleum monopoly.”

“EPA continues to refuse to treat E10 and E15 the same during the summer. As a result, EPA prevents consumers from purchasing a cleaner-burning, lower-cost fuel and thereby actually helps buttress the artificial ‘blend wall’ that Congress has directed them to tear down,” Shaw added. “It’s almost comical that for three and a half months a year, EPA hands the fuel market over to Big Oil resulting in higher prices, more smog forming emissions, and more carbon emissions. How does that make sense?”

EPA has refused to equalize the vapor pressure regulations for E10 and E15 during the summer driving season, running from June 1 through September 15. This allows the petroleum industry to provide Iowa wholesale suppliers and retailers with only the E10 blendstock, cutting E15 out of the market. Ironically, according to Iowa RFA, adding the extra five percent ethanol to summertime E10 actually lowers the vapor pressure and reduces evaporative and tailpipe emissions.

ACE Launches E15 Retailer Website

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) has launched a new website for retailers focused on E15: www.FlexFuelForward.com. The site is designed to answer retailer-focused questions about E15, E85 and mid-level ethanol blends.

“When convenience store owners consider a new product, the information they trust most comes from people like them – other retailers who have already done what they’re thinking about doing,” said ACE’s Senior Vice President, Ron Lamberty. “Fuel marketers thinking about new fuels want to hear from another retailer that adding those choices increased gallons, and led to better customer counts and higher profits – and that’s what we’re hearing from retailers who added E15 and flex fuels.”

Flex Forward“Unfortunately, most station owners don’t know anyone who sells E15 or flex fuels, and what they think they know about higher ethanol blends is warped by fictional ethanol horror stories, written by people who have never sold a drop of either product,” Lamberty continued. “That’s why the centerpiece of the FlexFuelForward.com site is a short documentary that introduces three fuel marketers who saw through the anti-ethanol ghost stories and added E15 and flex fuels to their product mix. Their real-world results show the doom and gloom predictions have not come true, and the rewards have been higher volume, more customers, better margins, and higher profits.”

FlexFuelForward.com provides additional fuel marketer-focused information to help station owners decide to add E15 and/or flex fuels, including links to fuel, equipment and government websites that have even more detailed information. “This site is aimed at capturing the attention and answering the main questions of marketers who have not responded to the ethanol industry’s other campaigns,” explained Lamberty. “We want to address the top concerns that are keeping station owners from considering E15 or flex fuels, and from there, point them to the people or information they need to get another E15 or flex fuel location built.”

Lamberty concluded, “We can’t bring experienced E15 and flex fuel marketers with us to every trade show or retailer workshop ACE attends. So we’ve done the next best thing – we’ve brought their stories to a place where they will be available 24/7, for marketers who live and work in the 24/7 convenience store world.”

USDA to Invest $100M in Biofuels Infrastructure

The Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership is getting an infusion of up to $100 million according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack. The funds will be used to build and update infrastructure needed to bring more biofuels to market. The announcement came on the same day that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Renewable Fuel Obligations (RVO) for 2014-2016 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Photo credit: Joanna Schroeder

Photo credit: Joanna Schroeder

As part of the program, USDA will provide competitive grants to match funding for state-led efforts to test and evaluate innovative and comprehensive approaches to market higher blends of renewable fuel, such as E15 and E85. States that are able to provide greater than a one-to-one ratio in funding will receive higher consideration.

“American-made, clean energy sources support the environment, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create jobs and sustain the economy in rural communities across the country. We are fortunate that our farmers are producing record amounts of feedstock for these fuels,” Vilsack said. “However, a combination of factors, including lower commodity prices and reduced demand for feed as the poultry industry recovers from highly pathogenic avian influenza, are creating uncertainty for America’s corn and soybean producers. With this partnership, USDA is helping to ensure the infrastructure is in place for consumers to access more renewable fuels, expand marketing opportunities for farmers, and grow America’s rural economies.”

The new USDA partnership will help support the installation of fuel pumps capable of supplying higher blends of renewable fuel. The goal of the program is to double the number of fuel pumps capable of supplying higher blends of renewable fuel to consumers, such as E15 and E85.

Ethanol Industry Pleased with NREL Study

The ethanol industry is pleased with a new study released this week by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) showing existing service station equipment is compatible with E15, a 15 percent blend of the green fuel. The study also looked at vapor control equipment and found “an extensive list of E15 and E15+ compatible equipment available.”

lamberty“Rumors of E15’s impossibility and high equipment cost have been greatly exaggerated,” said American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty. “NREL’s analysis confirms what we have been telling station owners since E15 was approved – most underground storage tanks (USTs), piping, and other fueling equipment are already compatible with E15.”

Lamberty said the ethanol industry has been criticized and called “dangerous” and “dishonest’ for suggesting marketers could simply put E15 in tanks they previously used for premium or midgrade gasoline. “Even after highlighting real-world fuel marketers selling E15 from existing equipment, the myth of high priced E15 infrastructure remains,” said Lamberty. “This study effectively busts that myth.”

Lamberty went on to say that “in stations where Big Oil couldn’t contractually ban E15, they had to scare the owners out of offering the less-expensive, higher-octane fuel.”

dinneen-capitolBob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, also commented on the study:

“This comprehensive analysis is both timely and relevant to the current debate about the so-called ‘blend wall’ that some would like to use to limit the growth opportunities for ethanol under the RFS. Clearly, the constraints to the increased use of E15 have more to do with the recalcitrance of refiners and marketers than they do any real infrastructure barriers. Today’s comprehensive study should once and for all belie the misplaced conclusion that infrastructure and ethanol demand limitations should justify a reduction in the RFS as it found most equipment at a retail fuel station today, including underground storage tanks, are compatible with E15. This study demonstrates that most retailers will not be required to break concrete and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to offer E15.”

The study was funded by the Blend Your Own Ethanol campaign, a joint effort of ACE and RFA to provide information for fuel retailers considering ethanol blends beyond E10. A full copy of the report can be found at BYOethanol.com, and interested parties can also register on the BYO website for an NREL webinar on the report which will be offered June 11, 2015 at 1:00 PM CDT.

NREL Releases E15 & Infrastructure Report

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has released a paper addressing the compatibility of E15 with gas station equipment. “E15 and Infrastructure” looks at compatibility of E15 through a literature review of published works by refueling equipment manufacturers, industry groups and federal agencies. The paper also includes a summary of applicable codes and standards, review of equipment manufacturer products, and verification with manufacturers regarding which ethanol blends work
with their products.

NREL logoThe report also addresses several misperceptions about E15 including that it is safe to store the ethanol blend in tanks. The paper states that for many decades, underground storage tank manufacturers have approved their tanks for blends up to E100, more specifically, all steal tanks and double-walled fiberglass tanks since the year 1990.

As part of the study all fuel and vapor handling equipment was reviewed to determine if it was certified by a third-party (such as UL) and if it was listed for specific ethanol blends. The aggregated list confirms there are UL testing standards available now for all gasoline–ethanol blends from 0% to 85% ethanol. The appendices includes a full list of E15 and E15+ compatible equipment. The literature review also finds that there were no incidents of E10 causing releases from UST systems were identified.

The study concludes, “There are future opportunities for retailers to remove or replace their current equipment not necessarily related to continuous changes in motor fuel composition. Credit card companies are requiring retail fueling stations to update their dispensers to accept new chip and PIN secure credit cards by October 2017, at which time fraud liability would switch to station owners if they have not updated their equipment. This presents an opportunity to increase E25 UL-listed equipment through a retrofit kit if electronics are being upgraded to accommodate the new credit cards, or if a station owner must purchase a new dispenser, it could pay a minimal amount more for an E25 dispenser. If a new dispenser is purchased, this may also present an opportunity to
upgrade to an E85 dispenser, but at significant additional cost.”