Federal Fleet to Use Alternative Fuels

President Obama wants the federal fleet of more than 600,000 vehicles to use alternative fuels by 2015.

The goal of the Presidential Memorandum issued today implementing new Federal fleet management practices is “to cut oil imports by one-third by 2025 and to put one million advanced vehicles on the road by 2015.”

By December 31, 2015, all new light duty vehicles leased or purchased by agencies must be alternative fueled vehicles, such as hybrid or electric, compressed natural gas, or biofuel. Moreover, agency alternative fueled vehicles must, as soon as practicable, be located in proximity to fueling stations with available alternative fuels, and be operated on the alternative fuel for which the vehicle is designed. Where practicable, agencies should encourage development of commercial infrastructure for alternative fuel or provide flex fuel and alternative fuel pumps and charging stations at Federal fueling sites.

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, U.S. General Services Administrator Martha Johnson and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley came together to make the announcement on Tuesday and to look over alternative fuel options like the new Chevrolet VOLT electric vehicle.

The ethanol industry was pleased that the administration is interested in getting more flex-fuel vehicles. “By ordering the purchase of Flex Fuel vehicles capable of running on a range of ethanol blends, and encouraging installation of Flex Fuel pumps, this Executive Order will help us achieve the President’s energy security goal of reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” said Chris Thorne with the ethanol group Growth Energy.

National Biodiesel Board (NBB) chairman Gary Haer, vice president of Renewable Energy Group (REG), said the White House directive provides more opportunities for biodiesel growth in the federal fleet which uses more than 66 million gallons of diesel fuel and 6.5 million gallons of biodiesel each year. “Dozens of local governments, universities and other institutions already are using biodiesel to help green their fleets,” said Haer. “It’s something the federal government could do immediately, without leaving the taxpayer a big bill for new equipment.”

Sales of 85 Percent Ethanol Up in Iowa

Iowa drivers are buying 85 percent ethanol for their flex fuel vehicles.

Iowa RFAAccording to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), E85 sales in Iowa increased by 27 percent during the first quarter of 2011 compared to the fourth quarter of 2010. The Iowa Department of Revenue reports that sales of E85 by Iowa retailers reached 2,645,038 gallons during the first three months of this year. Compared to the first quarter of 2010, E85 sales were up 64 percent in 2011.

“Consumers have increasingly sought out E85 as an affordable, homegrown alternative with gasoline prices approaching $4 per gallon,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “It was especially exciting to see E85 sales increase robustly even as the Iowa E85 retailer tax credit was cut by half on the first of January.”

Since January 1, 2006, Iowa retailers have received a tax credit for each gallon of E85 sold. Under the 2006 law, the E85 tax credit was reduced from 20 cents per gallon to 10 cents per gallon on January 1, 2011. Iowa currently has 142 retail outlets offering E85 and is the leading state in renewable fuels production, with 41 ethanol refineries capable of producing nearly 3.7 billion gallons annually and 12 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce 315 million gallons annually.

Royal Wedding Car Runs on 85 Percent Ethanol

The Dukemobile is an FFV!

dukemobileNever thought there would be a biofuels angle to the Royal Wedding, but as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge left Buckingham Palace for the royal residence Clarence House, they drove off in a “convertible Aston Martin Volante DB6 MKII in Seychelles blue is owned by his father HRH The Prince of Wales” that runs on 85 percent ethanol.

“In June 2008, at the specific request of The Prince of Wales, who is keen that his cars should be run on sustainable fuel, the Aston Martin was converted to run on E85 bioethanol, made from English wine wastage,” reads the update on the Royal Wedding website.

They even have a Royal Wedding YouTube video of the couple leaving in the car:

New Blender Pump in York, NE

nebraska blender pumpA new ethanol blender pump opened last week in York, Nebraska thanks to the efforts of the Nebraska Ethanol Board and the Nebraska Corn Board.

“E85 is cleaner than gas, it’s produced here in Nebraska, and more and more cars can use it every year,” said Todd Sneller, Nebraska Ethanol Board Administrator. ”The addition of this new flex fuel dispenser will ensure that consumers will have more choices at the pump to fuel up their flex fuel vehicle,” added Kim Clark, Ag Program Manager with the Nebraska Corn Board. “Consumers will be able to fill up based on price, performance and availability.”

The York E85 / blender pump is the 61st in Nebraska to offer the renewable fuel. The location will have regular gasoline, ethanol fuels, and diesel available 24 hours a day. Over 96,000 Nebraska motorists currently own Flexible Fuel Vehicles, which can run on any blend of ethanol and gasoline, including E85.

Propel Fuels Hosts USDA’s Judith Canales

Propel Fuels hosted Judith Canales, Administrator for Rural Business and Cooperative Programs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), yesterday at one of the fuel retailer’s stations in Oakland, California yesterday to promote the positive and economic and environmental impacts biofuels has on the US. Propel is the leading retailer in the US installing biofuel infrastructure for both ethanol and biodiesel to the 20 million renewable fuel-ready vehicles (with approximately 1 million on the roads in California) on America’s roads today. However, the majority of flex-fuel vehicle drivers don’t have access to the fuel.

Canales’ visit highlights the USDA’s plan to fund the build-out of 10,000 renewable fuel pumps across the nation in the next five years, and the industry anticipates that announcements are forthcoming within the next few weeks as to selected retailers that will receive initial funds to help them install E85 pumps and blender pumps across the country.

“Propel shares the USDA’s vision for quickly increasing consumer access to renewable fuels in order to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, boost local economies, and reduce emissions,” said Jim Iacoponi, Vice President of Operations of Propel. “Through a partnership between private investment and public funds, Propel will continue to build the critical link between California’s drivers and the next generation of fuels.”

In late 2010, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the USDA’s plan to help fund the installation of 10,000 renewable fuel pumps across the nation within the next five years. This plan, along with other departmental efforts, aim to support the further development of the domestic renewable fuels industry, creating jobs and economic growth, primarily in rural America, but to the benefit of all of America. The USDA is looking to partner with private sector infrastructure providers in order to quickly and efficiently roll out the 10,000-pump plan in coming years.

“The USDA is committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural America and we believe a strong renewable fuels industry, including convenient access to these fuels, is critical to this goal,” said Canales.

Propel’s stations are frequented by California’s greenest fleets including the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) who showcased vehicles at today’s event. In addition to infrastructure, Propel’s education and outreach programs empower consumers and fleets to make the move to renewable fuels. Adoption of these fuels can provide immediate and significant CO2 reductions helping achieve California’s ambitious emission reduction goals.

What Would You Do For $1,000 of Free Fuel?

The National FFV Awareness Campaign is launching the Ohio FFV Awareness Campaign today during the Cleveland Auto Show. The goal of the campaign to raise awareness and use of higher blends of ethanol.

Douglas A. Durante, Executive Director of the Clean Fuels Foundation, the organization spearheading the Campaign said, “With rising tension in the Middle East and gasoline prices to match, FFV owners are going to be the nation’s first line of defense during the next oil shortage and/or price spike. FFV owners will have the option to use up to 85% ethanol in their FFVs while also supporting Ohio’s #1 economic engine – agriculture. Ohio has a large population of FFVs, ethanol production, a strong agricultural sector, numerous federal fleets, and automakers making FFVs. If economic development does not get everyone’s interest, we hope the $1,000 in free fuel will. These are trying times for our nation and we think FFV owners will want to try some higher blends of ethanol.”

As part of the Campaign, Ohio FFV motorists have a chance to stop by the booth during the show and register to win $20 E85 ethanol gift cards. In addition, POET Biorefining is sponsoring the $500 and $1000 FFV Awareness FlexFuel Giveaway drawings. After the event, the Ohio FFV Awareness team will continue to work with FFV dealers, E85 retailers and other stakeholders to launch the $1,000 FlexFuel grand prize.

“Many people don’t even realize that they have the option to use cleaner, American-made ethanol within their FlexFuel vehicles (FFV’s),” Bishop said. “This campaign changes that. If given the opportunity, I know even more U.S. drivers will choose to support American jobs and renewable energy by fueling up their FFVs with ethanol,” said Mike Bishop, General Manager, POET Biorefining and Vice President of Ohio Ethanol Producers.

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Toledo are 5 of the 33 markets with the highest concentration of FFV owners in the United States.

Sam Spofforth, Executive Director of Clean Fuels Ohio, a Clean Cities Coalition, added, “There are about 650,000 FFVs owners in Ohio. However, according to industry observers about 90% of FFV drivers don’t know they have a vehicle that can use any combination of gasoline ethanol up to 85% — or know that’s what makes their car flexible. We look forward to being a part of the Ohio FFV Awareness Campaign team and coordinating the selection of the $1,000 fuel giveaway winner from the state FFV owner database on July 4, 2011.”

GM Test Drive at Ethanol Conference

2011 ethanol conferenceGM featured test drives in new Flex Fuel 2011 Buick Regal Turbos and GMC Terrains at the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) 2011 National Ethanol Conference and dozens of attendees took advantage of the opportunity. Pictured is RFA board member Ray Defenbaugh of Big River Resources West Burlington preparing to take a spin in a Regal Turbo.

I took a drive with Mark Maher, GM Executive Director for Powertrain and Vehicle Integration, to learn more about the company’s commitment to FFVs and what’s so new about the Buick Regal Turbo. “It’s got a 2.4 liter turbo-charged, E85 flex fuel vehicle engine and it’s also direct injected,” said Maher. “That helps with efficiency and it allows us to have a slightly higher compression ratio to improve efficiency. So, it’s a great match with high concentration ethanol fuels like E85 that are high octane.” Maher says 40 percent of GM vehicles were FFV, 45 percent this year, and they are hoping for 50 percent next year.

Maher had some great comments during his presentation to the NEC about E85 energy efficiency in FFVs and about the importance of not taking E85 for granted. “We need to make sure that ethanol gets credit for the CO2 reduction potential that it brings,” he explains.

Listen to or download my interview with Mark Maher here: Mark Maher Interview

2011 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

New Ethanol Fuel Finder App from RFA

iphone appThe Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is excited to announce the release of a new Flex-Fuel Station Locator application for iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch – free and available from the App Store.

The Flex-Fuel Station Locator iPhone application will help users pinpoint any E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) station in the United States, providing the user with station locations, fuel prices, directions and a phone number to each station. The main screen features three buttons: Nearest, Favorites and About.

The app was developed by RFA utilizing the E85 station database hosted by the Alternative Fuels & Advanced Vehicles Data Center and the U.S. Department of Energy. This data is continuously updated to help users locate over 2,600 E85 fueling stations across the United States. To download the Flex-Fuel Station Locator, visit the Apple App Store and search “Flex-Fuel Station Locator” for a free and easy download directly to your iPhone, iPad or iTouch.

In addition to the Flex-Fuel Station Locator for iPhone, the RFA has developed a similar application for the Android series phones. This application is available at no cost on the Android Marketplace. For GPS users, the RFA also has an E85 Points of Interest (POIs) application for Garmin and TomTom GPS users.

Sen. Harkin Introduces “Biofuels Market Expansion Act”

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced a new piece of legislation today, called the “Biofuels Market Expansion Act of 2011.”  The bill, if passed, would ensure an increasing number of automobiles in the U.S. be flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), expands the number of blender pumps and make renewable fuel pipelines eligible for the federal loan guarantee pipeline program. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Al Franken (D-MN).

“While we appreciate the fact that the EPA is taking steps to approve E15, the ensuing litigation by opposing groups and red tape of the agency’s E15 pump labeling rule is creating a great deal of uncertainty about when E15 will be made available,” said Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) who is hosting a “Biofuels Beltway March” at the end of March.

Jennings continued, “Consumers deserve the kind of fuel choice that can only be achieved if there is a blender pump on every corner and an FFV in every garage. We must begin building flexibility into our nation’s fuel system so the power to choose the best fuel is put into the hands of the consumer – and not decided by EPA bureaucrats or by the oil industry through a de facto 90 percent petroleum mandate.”

“Flexible fuel vehicles and blender pumps allow a wide range of fuels to be offered by the gas stations and selected by the motorists, ensuring that homegrown renewable fuels have access to the marketplace and that motorists have the ability to choose the best fuel for their own vehicle.  We fully support the Harkin-Johnson market expansion bill and encourage their colleagues to sign on in support so that the legislation can move forward.”

The bill would require 50 percent of vehicles for sale in the U.S. to be flex-fuel vehicles in model years 2014 and 2015, and 90 percent to be FFVs in model year 2016 and after. The legislation also authorizes a grant program for the installation of blender pumps.

MD Grain Producers Join FFV Awareness Campaign

The Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board (MGPUB) have awarded a grant to the Clean Fuels Foundation to support a statewide program to increase the sale of high level ethanol blends. MGPUB will be supporting the National FlexFuel Vehicle Awareness Campaign in a statewide program to increase awareness among owners of flexible fuel vehicles that are capable of utilizing ethanol blends up to 85%.

MGPUB joins the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and more than 30 national companies and organizations that are part of the FFV Awareness Campaign working in several other states across the country. The overall campaign has been developed and is coordinated by the Clean Fuels Foundation, a Maryland based non-profit organization. With 16 E85 stations in the state and another half dozen scheduled to open in 2011, Maryland is a prime location to increase the use of ethanol and continue to expand infrastructure.

According to Marion Wilson, the President of the MGPUB, the FFV Awareness Campaign is a perfect compliment to the recent investment they have made in refueling infrastructure. “This program is the next step in the evolution of the ethanol program. We are getting more refueling locations all the time and the cars are becoming increasingly available. We will make sure current FFV owners are aware their vehicles have this capability and then inform them that these fuels are available and where they can get them,” said Mr. Wilson. “We are sure that when drivers know this we will see an increase in the use of ethanol which provides a range of environmental, energy, and economic benefits,” he said.

“Maryland is a prime candidate to use our small grains like barley for the production of advanced biofuels like ethanol,” said Lynne Hoot, Executive Director of the MGPUB. “By increasing the use of ethanol right here in the state we would offer a great advantage to anyone developing a project in Maryland,” she said.