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.”

Propel Fuels Leads California in E85

Propel Fuels has released a new white paper, “E85: A California Success Story,” that details their leadership as an E85 leader in California as well as in the U.S. Developed by the Propel Silicon Valley Workshop, the paper, and subsequent website, examines the productive role in what the paper terms as “low carbon E85″ has had in enabling California to meet its carbon reduction and petroleum reduction targets, while improving air quality in the state’s severe non-attainment communities.

E85 a California Success Story“Thanks to smart public policy and a strong value proposition for consumers, California’s E85 use has become a success story, and a road map for our nation for implementing low carbon fuels,” said Rob Elam, CEO of Propel Fuels. “This research conclusively demonstrates that E85 is a successful, sustainable, cost-effective fuel that consumers are choosing when they have retail access.”

Today, California has more than 1 million flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) on their roads. Utilizing data collected by Propel’s research team coupled with work done by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and California Energy Commission (CEC), the paper highlights information on E85 market growth, consumer demographics, value perceptions, emissions reductions, and the future potential of E85.

Key research findings include:

  • California has the highest rate of E85 growth of any state in the nation. E85 use has expanded 600% in California since 2009, while gasoline demand has decreased.
  • E85 use has significant positive impacts on air quality, greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions and petroleum reductions; providing air quality benefits in severe non-attainment areas by contributing 18-67% reduction in NOx as well as a 32% reduction in GHG emissions.
  • E85 use has specifically benefited CalEPA designated Disadvantaged Communities.
  • E85 is California’s value fuel, with 92% of users saying it is the same or better value than gasoline.
  • California’s 1 million FFVs can displace 600 million gallons of petroleum gasoline with E85.
  • California’s retail E85 volume per location exceeds the national average by 300%.
  • As a result of its policies, California is home to the lowest carbon ethanol in the country.

Husker Motorsports Races into Lincoln, Neb

The Formula SAE series is heading to Lincoln Airpark, located in Lincoln, Nebraska, on June 17-20, 2015. More than 250 universities from around the world participate in the series, where teams have a choice of using E85 or unleaded gasoline. One of the participating teams is the University of Lincoln, Nebraska-based Husker Motorsports that races on E85 and is supported, in part, by the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB).

Husker_Motorsports_team“We run E85 because it is a part of Nebraska’s culture and we like to represent our state well at competitions,” said Charles Lee, Husker Motorsports member. “There is an additional technical benefit of E85 having an extremely high octane rating.  We are very fortunate that the competition moved to Lincoln several years ago, which led to the formation of our team and provides great opportunities for our members. We are proud to represent Nebraska and UNL by going head to head with some of the country’s top universities.”

In addition to the competition, there will be a meet and greet with Dan Schwartzkopf, former National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) drag racer, June 17 from 1-4 p.m. at the main Airpark tent. Schwartzkopf, who raced more than 15 years, was the first producer of race ethanol provided to the Indy Racing League. He has been promoting ethanol as a performance fuel since 1992, and continues to work as a fuel tech for Ethanol Performance Fuel and other venues.

“Ethanol is cleaner-burning with higher octane allowing it to compete with all race fuels while reducing emissions,” Schwartzkopf said. “Ethanol is competitive in several ways: it costs less, performance is equal or better than unleaded gasoline, non-toxic octane booster for high-compression engines, and it’s healthier for the driver and the environment.”

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.

New White Paper Shows California’s E85 Success

A new study shows how E85 has been a success in California. Published by Propel Fuels, the white paper titled, “E85: A California Success Story White Paper,” and associated website illustrate the state’s emergence as the national leader in the use of sustainable E85 Flex Fuel.

Key research findings include:

● California has the highest rate of E85 growth of any state in the nation. E85 use has expanded 600% in California since 2009, while gasoline demand has decreased.
● E85 use has significant positive impacts on air quality, greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions and petroleum reductions; providing air quality benefits in severe non-attainment areas by contributing 18-53% reduction in NOx as well as a 32% reduction in GHG emissions.
● E85 use has specifically benefited CalEPA designated Disadvantaged Communities.
● E85 is California’s value fuel, with 92% of users saying it is the same or better value than gasoline.
● California’s 1 million Flex Fuel vehicles can displace 600 million gallons of petroleum gasoline with E85.
● California’s retail E85 volume per location exceeds the national average by 300%.
● As a result of its policies, California is home to the lowest carbon ethanol in the country.

“Thanks to smart public policy and a strong value proposition for consumers, California’s E85 use has become a success story, and a road map for our nation for implementing low carbon fuels,” said Rob Elam, CEO of Propel Fuels. “This research conclusively demonstrates that E85 is a successful, sustainable, cost-effective fuel that consumers are choosing when they have retail access.”

California boasts 1 million Flex Fuel vehicles (FFV’s) that can use E85 interchangeably with conventional gasoline with no modification.

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.”

Bipartisan Bill Expands RVP Ethanol Waiver for 10%+

donnellyA bipartisan bill that increases the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) wavier for ethanol blends above 10 percent has been introduced in the U.S. Senate. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) was joined by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Deb Fischer (R-NE). The legislation would allow for more retailers to sell E15 gasoline/ethanol blended fuel year-round.

Donnelly said, “Biofuels like ethanol are renewable domestic energy sources, create more economic opportunities, and give consumers more options at the gas pump. This legislation would expand the RVP waiver for ethanol blends, increasing the market for ethanol producers in Indiana and around the country and making more clean fuels available to consumers year-round. We should be pursuing an all-in approach toward American energy production that includes ethanol and other biofuels because it helps our economy and increases our national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil. I am proud my colleagues Senator Grassley and Senator Fischer are joining me in this bipartisan effort to reduce the burden of regulations on ethanol producers and consumers.”

Grassley said, “Consumers appreciate having choices, whether it’s at the grocery store or the fuel pump. Those of us who live in biofuels-producing states understand the appeal of cleaner, domestic, renewable fuels. The EPA should be consistent in the way it treats different fuel blends as a matter of fairness and to give consumers more options for fueling their vehicles. The EPA has never acted on its authority to grant a Reid vapor pressure waiver for E15. This bill proposes a legislative fix to fill the void.”

Tom Buis, Growth Energy CEO, said, “We applaud this strong bipartisan effort to remove the largest regulatory hurdle standing between consumers and access to a cleaner, less expensive and higher performing fuel. Senators Donnelly, Grassley and Fischer recognize that higher ethanol blends such as E15 benefit our environment, our economy and our rural communities, and are working together to bring those benefits to every American and move our nation forward. We commend them for taking the lead on this important issue in Congress.”

ncga-logo-newThe National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) also welcomed the news:

“We applaud Senators Donnelly, Grassley, and Fischer for their bipartisan efforts to increase the market for ethanol producers and give consumers more choices at the pump,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling. “June 1 is rapidly approaching, and we should ensure consumers will continue to have access to energy that is clean, renewable, and American-grown. We urge Congress to pass this legislation.”

Marine Base Goes Green with Ethanol, Biodiesel

marinebiodiesel1Marines in Southern California are going a bit greener, as initiatives at one base are converting much of the vehicles used to run on ethanol, biodiesel and other alternative fuels. This article from DVIDS says Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, California, is trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by four percent in the next two years, to 15 percent in the next six years, reaching a target of 30 percent by 2025.

“We are converting from gasoline and diesel, to compressed natural gas, liquid propane, ethanol, biodiesel, and electric,” [Tim Hutzley, fleet manager at Southwest Regional Fleet Transportation, Yermo Annex of Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow] said. Those conversions have been ongoing, with some of the new technologies working well, and others taking time for the industry to work out the problems. For vehicles that can’t be retrofitted to accept alternative fuels, buying vehicles made to run on more efficient fuels is one of the major ways to meet the target of reducing petroleum-based fuels.

Hutzley added, “Our requirement for 2025 is to have 20 percent of the 127 over-the-road vehicles (that can operate outside the base) as hybrids. And replace the rest when possible with smaller better, technologically advanced vehicles.”

According to Hutzley, more than half of the base’s gasoline type vehicles run on E-85 fuel, meaning 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, which cost $3.18 a gallon compared to unleaded gasoline at $3.21. California’s consumer summer blend unleaded gasoline has only 10 percent ethanol.

“The upside,” he said, “is we are cutting our dependence on foreign oil as well as cutting our greenhouse gas emissions, which are the main reasons for using alternative fuels.”

Most diesel vehicles on base are running with a blend of 20 percent biodiesel. Biodiesel is typically made from corn, but can also be distilled from other vegetable and animal fats as well as algae, said Hutzley.

Officials add that biofuels are renewable, produced in the U.S., and often cheaper.

RFA Welcomes New California E85 Station

RFANewlogoCalifornia is getting its latest E85 station in Calimesa. The Renewable Fuels Association welcomed the partnership between Pearson Fuels and G&M Oil Company, a station that will be selling E85 for just 85 cents a gallon today (Wednesday, April 15).

Robert White, vice president of industry relations at the Renewable Fuels Association, commented, “It is great to see the second largest flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) market get more E85 stations. RFA congratulates Pearson Fuels and G&M Oil Company for identifying the need to bring this low-cost, cleaner-burning, alternative fuel throughout California. Consumers are searching for options, and many will now find E85.”

Pearson Fuels and G&M Oil Company have announced 13 new E85 stations slated for California.