Growth’s Kelly Manning Shares ‘All Things Ethanol’

Growth Energy's Kelly Manning brings out the 'big guns" during his all things ethanol interview with DF blogger Joanna Schroeder.

Growth Energy’s Kelly Manning brings out the ‘big guns” during his all things ethanol interview with DF blogger Joanna Schroeder.

Growth Energy’s Kelly Manning, vice president of development, shared all things ethanol with me during the #FarmProgressShow in Decatur, Illinois and it was great to catch up after a year of the organization fighting the good fight with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to keep the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) going forward. But this was not the focal point of our conversation; rather, Manning gave me updates on all the consumer and retailer education and infrastructure development they are doing around the country about ethanol.

For all the anti-ethanol boaters out there, Manning told us about Don Onken, a farmer from Illinois, who broke the speed record with his American Ethanol Mystic catamaran, topping out at speeds of 208 mph. Manning said Onken is a passionate supporter of ethanol and passionate about speed so he put the two together. His boat runs on four engines, all powered with 90 percent ethanol. Manning said that no matter what you read, ethanol is safe to use with boats and encourages people to get the facts and they would like to work with the boating industry to discuss the safety of ethanol and boats.

On to E15. Just this week all drivers of vehicles newer than 2001 can use E15 again. The industry has been working to change this so that drivers can use the ethanol blend year round. Manning noted that two years ago the conversations they were having with retailers were quite different than the conversations they are having now. He explained that E15 is “More economical at the pump overall. It’s saves them money. It drives store traffic. We have retailers who are seeing thirty percent jumps on their inside sales.”

Manning also said that the Prime the Pump program has been successful in expanding ethanol blends and today there are 23 states offering consumers E15 at the pump. Also helping is large retailers offering E15. But in terms of the issue with EPA, Manning said that this is a high priority for retailers and many have joined Growth’s advocacy efforts with the EPA to resolve this issue and allow E15 sales year round. (It’s a RVP, or Reid Vapor Pressure Issue).  He encouraged consumers to let retailers know they want the fuel, and, Fiat, the last auto manufacturer hold-out has endorsed E15.

Other topics of discussion included flex pumps (ethanol blends such as E30, E40 and E85), rolling out an auto dealership education program and the success of the NASCAR program and the new NASCAR-branded ethanol labels at the pump.

To learn more about ‘All Things Ethanol’ listen to my interview with Kelly Manning: Interview with Kelly Manning, Growth Energy

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

E15 Offered in Iowa, Again

E15 is being sold to consumers across Iowa who drive vehicles newer than 2001, again. The ethanol blend, that was still sold to flex-fuel vehicle drivers during the summer months, is not allowed to be sold in the state June 1-September 15, an issue that the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) has been working to eliminate.

“E15 is the lowest-cost fuel for the vast majority of Iowans on the road today, and we’re excited 2001 and newer vehicle owners across the state can once again reap the benefits of E15,” said IRFA Managing Director Lucy Norton. “With millions of miles already driven on E15, Iowa motorists can choose E15 with confidence, knowing it’s a safe, economical fueling option that provides nearly identical fuel economy to E10.”

E15 pump at Kum and Go

The label on an E15 pump at a Kum & Go retail station in Des Moines, IA when only FFVs drivers can legally fill up their tanks with E15 during the summer months. Photo: Joanna Schroeder

The halt of sales is due to a quirk in federal regulation. The EPA has yet to equalize the vapor pressure regulations for E10 and E15 during the summer driving season, from June 1 through September 15. As a result, the sale of E15 in Iowa is restricted to flex-fuel vehicles only during that timeframe. To re-introduce E15 into the marketplace in Iowa, the IRFA is kicking-off a consumer education campaign to inform motorists of the benefits of E15.

“There’s loads of interest in E15 among Iowa drivers, and quite a bit of misinformation out there, so we’re doing our part to educate motorists on the benefits of this more American-made fuel,” Norton added. “IRFA staff and ethanol supporters will be at many Iowa E15 stations over the next few weeks, talking with drivers about cleaner-burning E15, while many stations offer special E15 discounts.”

IRFA’s E15 consumer education program starts September 18, 2015 with events at Murphy USA in Indianola, Iowa and Good & Quick in Nevada, Iowa. Murphy USA, located at 1502 N. Jefferson St. in Indianola, Iowa, will offer E15 to 2001 and newer vehicles at a 75-cent per gallon discount to 87-octane E10 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Good & Quick, located at 519 Lincoln Highway in Nevada, Iowa, will offer registered E15 for a 15-cent per gallon discount from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Additionally, Cenex Ampride in Eagle Grove and Fort Dodge, Iowa, will host consumer education events on September 22. Supplementary consumer education events will be announced in the near future.

Farmers Cooperative Hosting Grand Opening

FClogo_bigFarmers Cooperative Company, in conjunction with the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), will be holding a Grand Opening event Tuesday, September 22nd to promote their new biofuel offerings. The Mount Ayr location (400 East South Street Mount Ayr, IA) will offer E15 for $1.15 per gallon and E85 for $.85 per gallon from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. A free lunch will also be served to those who fill up with biofuels.

The retail station is also selling biodiesel blends including B5, B11 B20, B30 and B99.

“Thanks to Farmers Cooperative Company and Governor Branstad’s ‘Fueling Our Future’ program, Mount Ayr-area motorists will now have a wide range of cleaner-burning fuel choices when it comes to ethanol and biodiesel blends,” said IRFA Managing Director Lucy Norton. “Not only will nearby motorists benefit from E15, the lowest-cost fuel for the vast majority of vehicles on the road, diesel customers will be able to take advantage of increased fuel lubricity from more environmentally-friendly biodiesel blends, like B20.”

Algenol’s Algae-based Ethanol to Be Sold Via Protec

Protec Fuel Management has taken another innovative route to bring ethanol to consumers. The company has signed an agreement to market and distribute Algenol Biotech’s algae-based ethanol being produced in Fort Myers, Florida. In addition, Protec will purchase 18 million gallons per year from Algenol’s commercial plant expected to be online in 2016 and distribute the fuel as E15 and E85 in both retail stations for consumers and stations dedicated to fleets.

Algenol makes ethanol from algae“This alliance is a logical step for Algenol as our commercial fuels are coming on-line,” said Algenol Founder and CEO Paul Woods. “We are excited about partnering with a successful, innovative renewable fuels distributor, who is knowledgeable in the regional and Florida ethanol market and has the expertise and relationships to grow the partnership nationally.”

According to Algenol, the partnership will enable them to leverage Protec’s established network of retail clients for the distribution of Algenol’s E85, E15 and other advanced biofuels. While the partnership will initially focus on Florida, the agreement provides for expansion into a national partnership scope as Algenol develops projects in other markets. Algenol’s Florida-based production facilities will provide both parties and their customers with a substantial margin advantage versus fuels shipped from out-of-state.

“We know that advanced ethanol is a key element of the future of fuels, and we are excited to partner with Algenol, the leader in the development of algae-based fuels,” added Todd Garner, CEO, Protec Fuel. “The key components and priority of ethanol’s use are sustainability, cleaner air, and to provide the public with lower-cost fuel,” he said. “To be able to offer a fuel that can accomplish the three key components only bolsters this advanced biofuel’s future.”

This agreement follows a series of successful commercialization milestones achieved by Algenol, which include its pathway approval by the EPA in December 2014, its organism approval by both the state of Florida and by the EPA in the same year, and the June 2015 completion of its 2-acre commercial demonstration module funded in part by a $25 million DOE Recovery Act grant. Algenol is producing ethanol meeting the D4806 ASTM specifications on a daily basis, and it can be sold commercially as E85.

Illinois Corn Working to Support #Ethanol, E15

Ken Hartman-2I stopped by the Illinois Corn booth during the Farm Progress Show and had the opportunity to speak with Kenneth Hartman, an Illinois corn, soybean and wheat grower. He gave me an update on the their efforts to increase mid-level ethanol blends across the state. One such initiative is working with key players in Chicago to get 150 E15 stations up and running in the city. A piece of legislation is sitting with the Alderman and the mayor and Hartman hopes Mayor Rahm Emanuel will sign on the line for the E15 roll out yet this year.

Speaking of E15, Harmann said they are working with retailers across the state to build the infrastructure. They have been working with the American Lung Association and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board has allocated money to help with infrastructure through the Prime The Pump program. This program, he noted, provides matching funds for USDA’s BIP program. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced the allocation of $100 million in program funds.

Other initiatives include working with pump manufacturers to get equipment standardized and approved for E15 as well as consumer education.

To learn more about Illinois Corn’s ethanol initiatives, listen to my interview with Ken Hartman: Ken Hartman, Illinois Corn Interview

Check out the Farm Progress Show photo album.

USDA Applauded for Biofuel Infrastructure Support

Photo Credit Joanna Schroeder

Photo Credit Joanna Schroeder

This morning, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement that 21 states will receive grants through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) to help provide access to more renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. In response, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) applauded USDA for expanding its efforts to provide consumers with fuel choice at the pump through expanded ethanol blends. The program will help retail station owners pay for equipment they may need to offer higher ethanol blends such as E85.

“Secretary Vilsack has worked tirelessly to see that his vision of 10,000 blender pumps across the nation becomes reality, and the Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership is another great example of his commitment to expanding markets for farmers’ products,” said ACE Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty whose organization works with retailers and provide assistance through their FlexFuelForward website.

“BIP is a matching grant program, which means USDA also challenged states and ethanol supporters to step up and make equal or greater amounts of infrastructure funding available to station owners. The intended result is nearly a quarter of a billion dollars petroleum marketers can use to buy equipment and offer more ethanol blends to consumers. In many cases, station owners will pay little or nothing to add state-of-the-art blender dispensers and other equipment they may need to sell flex fuels and E15. We encourage retailers to apply for funding assistance through the appropriate state agencies,” Lamberty added.

Growth Energy also praised the USDA with CEO Tom Buis noting that the announcement is a “tremendous win” for American consumers. “It is unfortunate that the obligated parties refuse to follow the law and blend increasing amounts of renewable fuel,” said Buis, “but the steps by the administration and Secretary Vilsack will ensure higher ethanol blends, such as E15, penetrate the marketplace, and provide consumers with a choice and savings they deserve.” Continue reading

Association Motor Club Proudly Supports Ethanol

Gene Hammond, Co-Owner with Association Motor Club Marketing (AMCM), supports the use of E15. Over the past few years, despite evidence to the contrary, AAA does not support the use of E15. However, competitor AMCM does and the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is calling on drivers to support a company that supports ethanol.

Gene Hammond Association Motor Club MarketingHammond explained that four years after EPA approval of E15 and two years after AAA declared it was premature back in 2012, his company began looking into their claims, and not one service claim in two years was related to ethanol. As a result, Hammond approached ACE with their findings and a partnership was solidified.

Hammond was born on a farm in South Dakota and he knows first-hand what ethanol has done for America. So have others, he said. Many new customers have joined because his company supports the use of ethanol blends.

The 50+ year old motor club has more than 19 million members in 50 states and Hammond said his company’s focus is on providing unmatched service for their members. As a result, “reality” trumps all and with no car problems related to the fuel, he encourages drivers to give E15 a try.

Ethanol supporters ready to make the switch (I did) should go to and click on the “Ethanol Supporters” tab to receive a membership discount.

To learn more about the Association Motor Club Marketing and their support of ethanol, listen to my interview with Gene Hammond: Interview with Gene Hammond, AMCM

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

NCGA: We Will Not Stand for RFS Attacks

Rob Elliot NCGAThe National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is continuing to fight back said NCGA president Chip Bowling of Maryland during a press conference at the Farm Progess Show. “It’s about the many people who attack us [farmers] in DC like the DC bureaucrats, radio talk loudmouths and fearmongers on social media.”

Among other issues, Bowling was referring to the attack on ethanol through the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). He noted that growers must find a way to stay in business when market prices drop below the price of production. “That is why we’re not standing by while government regulators ignore the law when it comes to ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Bowling.

In addition to defending the RFS, Bowling said NCGA is working to help build infrastructure for higher ethanol blends such as E15 and E85 while working with their allies at the U.S. Grains Council to increase ethanol and by-products exports such as dried distillers grains DDGs.

To learn more about NCGA’s biofuel and bioproducts intiatives, listen to their Farm Progress Show press conference here: NCGA #FarmProgressShow Press Conference

Check out the Farm Progress Show photo album.

Nebraska Wants Clean Air

Kim Clark ACE 2015Kim Clark, former director of biofuels development for Nebraska Corn spoke during the recent Ethanol Conference in Omaha, Nebraska hosted by the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) about their Clean Air for Nebraska campaign. Her focus is to educate consumers across the state about ways to improve air quality. The goal of the campaign is create awareness around how using ethanol in fuels is a small step to make a big impact in air quality. She noted that there is a good number of organizations supporting the efforts.

The multi-facted campaign includes adding additional biofuels infrastructure throughout the state with Nebraska Corn allocating $500,000 to adding more blender pumps. Next, the campaign is focusing on helping consumers understand what ethanol blends are and what cars can use what blends including E15 and E85. Much of the marketing is taking place at the pump but the campaign also included radio ads. Ultimately the clean air campaign supporters hope their tools can be used by other regions and states as a template for biofuel and air pollution education.

To learn more about the Clean Air for Nebraska campaign, listen to Kim Clark’s presentation: Kim Clark, Clean Air for Nebraska

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

ARF Reacts to Hillary Clinton’s Ag, Energy Plan

Presidential candidate Sec. Hillary Clinton (D) made another visit to Iowa this week where she unveiled her agriculture and rural policy plan. She called for strengthening the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) so that it continues to drive the development of advanced cellulosic and other advanced biofuels. Clinton called for more consumer choice at the pump with better access to ethanol blends such as E15 and E85 as well as biodiesel. She also called for more renewable energy to be phased into the electricity sector.

Sec Hillary ClintonAmerica’s Renewable Future (ARF), who is meeting with candidates to discuss the benefits of biofuels, released the following statement in response to the plan.

“We thank Sec. Clinton for her commitment to Iowa’s farmers, consumers, and investors with her call of a strengthened RFS. We enthusiastically echo that call, especially in light of President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) disastrous Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) proposal. The EPA’s proposal is another example of conceding to the oil industry’s demands at the expense of clean, domestic renewable fuels and American jobs.

Billions of dollars were invested by famers and local investors to produce biofuels with the promise of a strong RFS. Reducing the RVO will strand capitol and punish the pioneers who invested in clean, homegrown renewable energy. The RFS has created 73,000 jobs here in Iowa and hundreds of thousands more around the country that cannot be outsourced, reduced our dependence on foreign oil, helped clean our air, and provided consumers savings at the pump.

Iowa’s rural communities and economy depend on the RFS for stability and growth and the EPA must get it back on track and focus on protecting the jobs and economic progress it has yielded.”