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.”

NFU Disturbed by Renewable Energy Funding Cuts

nfu_logo1The National Farmers Union (NFU) is expressing its disappointment in proposed cuts to federal spending on renewable energy. NFU President Roger Johnson released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Water spending subcommittee’s voted to reduce funds for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“Renewable energy and energy efficiency are key to building climate resilience, and many of our rural communities experience much-needed reinvestment from renewable energy development.” Johnson said. “Congress should increase, not cut, funds for renewable energy.”

Johnson noted that America’s family farmers and ranchers are already impacted by increased weather volatility related to the changing climate, including fewer workable days, increased potential for soil erosion, and increased crop insurance claims, and without support for renewables, they may have to brace for additional negative consequences.

“Other consequences, including fluctuating access to water resources and increased pest and weed pressure, will impact our efforts to produce sufficient food, fuel and fiber,” Johnson noted. “Renewable energy will also, in the long term, offer protection against volatile rates and contribute to our nation’s energy independence.”

Iowa Lawmakers Ride-and-Drive on Biodiesel

ia-biodiesel-branstadLawmakers in Iowa got the chance to experience the power of biodiesel for themselves. The Iowa Biodiesel Board (IBB) held its its first ever Ride-and-Drive event at the capitol in Des Moines as part of the group’s annual “Biodiesel Day on the Hill” event, whose riders included Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds.

“As a nation, we should continue to prioritize both a diverse fuel supply and clean, fuel efficient vehicles,” said Grant Kimberley, IBB executive director. “With diesel vehicles running on biodiesel blends, you get both.”

Biodiesel is an advanced biofuel made from agricultural byproducts and co-products, such as soybean oil.

Vehicles on hand included a diesel Chevy Cruze, the only small domestic diesel car; a Ford F-250 Superduty pickup; a Ram 3.0L EcoDiesel pickup; and a diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee. All ran on biodiesel blends during the event. The new 2015 models are approved for 20 percent biodiesel (B20).

Iowa biodiesel producers and supporters were also able to thank Iowa legislators for their support. Earlier this year, the state raised the fuel tax while providing a partial exemption for diesel blended with at least 11 percent biodiesel (B11).

Growth Energy Applauds E15 Bill

growth-energy-logoGrowth Energy is applauding new legislation seen as favorable for E15 ethanol. This news release from the group says the Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act sponsored by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) contains a provision to extend the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) volatility waiver to E15, a moved welcomed by Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy:

“We certainly support efforts by Senator Paul and Senator Grassley to remove a major hurdle preventing consumers the opportunity to purchase higher blends such as E15. This has been a major obstacle ever since Growth Energy led the successful effort to get E15 approved for commercial use.

“We are hopeful that Senators Paul and Grassley’s legislative efforts are successful in granting this much needed waiver to overcome the single largest regulatory hurdle to ensuring consumers have access to higher blends such as E15.”

TUSK: NC Solar Bill Laced with Poison Pill

This may prove to be the ‘Spring of Discontent’ for the solar industry as it fights for the right to keep solar affordable for consumers across the USA. Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed (TUSK) has been amid the solar brawls in several states including North Carolina. The advocacy group cites that North Carolina utilities including Duke Energy Carolinas and Dominion North Carolina Power have “laced” a well-intentioned North Carolina solar bill with a “poison pill” that would “unravel” solar net metering programs.

The utilities are publicly opposing the bill that would prevent third-party owned solar business model from taflying solar panelsking flight. Simultaneously, the utilities are privately attempting to slip in language that would open the doors and slam the solar market into the wall should the bill pass.

Net metering is a policy that gives solar customers full, fair credit for their excess solar energy. If a consumer produces more electricity than his house needs, he can sell the excess power back to the utility for a competitive price. This type of policy has helped to keep the solar market competitive. However, TUSK says if passed, the “Energy Freedom Act” HB 245 would give the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) the authority to approve a separate, discriminatory tariff for net metering customers. A separate tariff paves the way for stripping Tar Heels of the credit they deserve for investing in solar for their own roofs, says TUSK. The bill would also allow utilities to create a separate rate class for rooftop solar customers, a vehicle for solar taxes.

“This bill has a hidden poison pill that would undermine the solar industry,” said TUSK Chairman Barry Goldwater Jr. “The state Legislature should recognize this utility deception and strike the anti-solar language.”

Solar choice and competition are the conservative way, and should remain the North Carolina way, stressed Goldwater.

Monopoly Utilities Expose Solarcism

State-sponsored monopoly utilities, as coined by the Gulf States Renewable Energy Industry Association (GSREIA) have exposed their ‘solarcism’ in recent weeks. GSREIA has accused them of being “ignorant” and “misleading” when it comes to solar energy. The nonprofit wants to keep the utilities honest and is publicly clarifying some misconceptions. At issue is the frequency that monopoly utility supporters confuse Louisiana’s low electricity rates with customer electricity bills.

“It’s embarrassing that groups funded by large utilities could be so confused on the basic facts on electricity,” said Jeff Cantin, president of GSREIA. “If low rates meant low bills, Louisiana’s utilities would never have to explain to the media and regulators why customers suffer from high bills every summer and every winter.”

Gulf States Renewable Energy Industries Association LogoA good example, says Cantin, that explains how monopoly mouthpieces get it so wrong is to compare the automobile gasoline price-per-gallon vs. a driver’s total bill at the pump.

Cantin offers an example. Assume gasoline costs $2 a gallon. If a Prius owner fills up that car’s 11-gallon gasoline tank, the gasoline bill will be $22. If a Suburban owner fills up that SUV’s 31-gallon gasoline tank, the gasoline bill will be $62. Obviously the Suburban owner’s bill is going to be much higher. And clearly, the low price of gas per gallon doesn’t mean the bill will be cheap. The same principle applies to electric bills.

While Louisiana’s residential rates are relatively cheap at about 9.4 cents per kWh, actual bills depend on how many kWh customers actually use. According to the latest information from the Energy Information Administration, Louisiana’s average residential electric bill was $119.98 in 2013. Residents in 36 states paid lower average bills, meaning Louisiana had the 14th most expensive average utility bills in the nation.

Although every Louisiana utility customer’s bill clearly explains that the number of kWh used defines the size of the monthly bill, GSREIA hopes the state-sponsored monopoly mouthpieces are making honest mistakes instead of purposefully misleading the public.

SEIA Supports Florida Solar Bill

Floridians have a chance to vote in support of solar by supporting the Solar Choice 2016 ballot initiative. This grassroots community effort was launched as a means to allow more homes and businesses to generate electricity from solar. Florida is one of only five states in the nation that prohibits its citizens from buying electricity from companies that install solar panels on homes and businesses. Calling it vitally important to the development of clean energy resources in Florida, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has announced its “strong support” of the bill.

“This fight is about consumer choice and private property rights – cherished, long-standing American principals that we strongly support as an organization and an industry,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “Despite its sun-rich resources, Florida ranked only 20th in the nation last year in new installed solar capacity. For a state that touts itself as the ‘sunshine state,’ that’s a huge disappointment. Clearly, the legal prohibition against certain solar installations solar panels in agrepresents a serious roadblock to the development of clean, reliable solar energy statewide. We urge Floridians to sign this critically important, freedom-of-choice petition, allowing it to be placed on next year’s ballot.”

According to Florida law, 683,149 signatures are needed by February 1, 2016 to be included on the ballot. If ultimately successful, Resch said the ballot initiative could dramatically spur new solar development in Florida, providing the state with a big economic boost.

“Today, the U.S. solar industry employs 174,000 Americans nationwide – more than tech giants Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter combined – and pumps nearly $18 billion a year into our economy,” Resch added. “This remarkable growth is due, in large part, to smart and effective public policies, such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). By any measurement, these policies are paying huge dividends for both the U.S. economy and our environment. It’s time for Florida to share in this growth, too.”

Growth Energy Points to Cruz Record on Biofuels

growth-energy-logoAs Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announces his candidacy for president, Growth Energy is reminding voters of what the ethanol group calls his “pro-fossil fuel, pro-drilling legislation attempts to kill the homegrown renewable fuels industry.” This news release points to Cruz’s American Energy Renaissance Act, which Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, says will promotes Big Oil and deny consumer choice.

“The recent legislation introduced by Senator Cruz is not only shortsighted in terms of a comprehensive energy policy, but it seeks to stifle all production and growth of homegrown, sustainable biofuels that help create American jobs and reduce our dangerous dependence on fossil fuels. This legislation fails to factor in the important role biofuels play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while also providing consumers with a choice and savings at the pump.

“Senator Cruz seems to believe that he is exercising leadership by attacking the only energy policy that has contributed to our economic, energy and national security. Yet Senator Cruz fails to challenge or acknowledge the excessive subsidies oil companies have received for 102 years and counting at the expense of the American taxpayer. Let’s be clear – this is not ‘profiles in courage,’ this is pandering to Big Oil.

“He says there are no benefits from renewable fuels; however, the Renewable Fuel Standard has helped reduce our dependence on foreign oil by nearly 50 percent, from 60 to 33 percent, saved consumers at the pump, cleaned our air and revitalized our rural economy. Furthermore, his legislation is a direct attack on America’s farmers, the backbone of this nation, who are working overtime to feed the world and fuel America.”

Growth concludes that Cruz’s legislation would take away the freedom of choice for consumers to choose higher performing, less expensive fuel for which there is a demand.

Sens Wyden, Risch Intro Geothermal Energy Bill

Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Jim Risch, R-Idaho, have introduced legislation to encourage geothermal energy production on public lands. Coined the Geothermal Production Expansion Act, the bill would prevent speculative bidders from driving up the price of leases for developers seeking to use the land for geothermal projects. The bill streamlines the federal geothermal leasing program by allowing for the non-competitive leasing of a limited amount of federal land at fair market value to spur the expansion of geothermal energy on already identified “hot spots”. The bill passed the Senate last year. Senators Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, also cosponsored the legislation.

Sens Risch and WydenGeothermal projects are managed on Federal lands by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and it is estimated that 250 million acres contain geothermal power potential. Currently, geothermal energy projects that are producing geothermal power under the BLM’s management make up about half of the total geothermal generating capacity in the U.S.

“Geysers, volcanoes and hot springs – like Oregon’s own Neal Hot Springs – are reservoirs of the Earth’s enormous clean energy potential,” Wyden said. “By making these “hot spots” available to only serious developers, this bill protects taxpayer dollars and prevents speculators from holding hostage the enormous possibilities of geothermal energy.”

Risch added, “Reliable and lower-cost energy is the backbone of any successful economy and must be expanded to meet future needs. In Idaho and much of the west, geothermal energy is a largely untapped source of clean energy. This bill encourages its development and expansion by removing a layer of red tape that holds up production at geothermal facilities.”

Oregon and Idaho have the combined potential to produce at least 1,400 MW from geothermal resources – enough energy to power more than a million homes. U.S. Geothermal, Inc. operates geothermal power projects in both states.

“We thank Senators Wyden and Risch for their continued strong support of the geothermal industry with their introduction of the Geothermal Production Expansion Act,” said Doug Glaspey, President and COO of U.S. Geothermal, Inc. “This is an important piece that improves the federal leasing system and will help geothermal developers move projects toward production.”

NY Considers State Biodiesel Heating Oil Mandate

englebrightA measure before the New York state legislature would require biodiesel to be mixed into every gallon of heating oil sold in the state. This article from The Legislative Gazette says the bill would set a 2 percent mandate and start no later than July 1, 2016 if it is passed.

Bill A.6070 is sponsored by Assemblyman Steven Englebright, D- Setauket, in the Assembly and has the support of environmental groups, consumer groups, labor unions and farmers.

“Clean air is really a birthright for New Yorkers and this will help underwrite that premise,” Englebright said. “We think it is part of a whole series of measures that we’re going to have to take to clean up our environment in the state.”

Kevin Rooney, CEO of the Oil Heating Institute of Long Island, supports the use of biodiesel because it provides many benefits.

“The use of biofuels blended with ultra-low sulfur heating oil provides unquestioned energy efficiency, it provides environmental benefits, it increases or enhances public health benefits at no cost whatsoever to the end-use consumer, the home owner,” Rooney said.

The Ways and Means Committee is currently considering the bill.