Cold Winter Challenges Ethanol Plant Logistics

nec14-rail-bobAt the National Ethanol Conference last week, Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen had a discussion with Ed Hamberger, President and CEO, Association of American Railroads, on Regulatory Crackdown on Rail Transport. They discussed current government proposals focused on rail cars.

Hamberger kicked off the discussion by noting that ethanol has been one of the fastest growing commodity segments for the railroads growing from 40,000 rail cars of ethanol in 2000 to 330,000 in 2011- an 800 percent increase. While he said there were some challenges, new routes, new track, new employees, he said that over the years, the ethanol industry and the rail industry have become good partners for America. Rail Transportation conversation

nec14-patriot-vondraOne ethanol plant of many that is using the railroads to transport its ethanol and byproducts such as dried distillers grains (DDGs) is Patriot Renewable Fuels, located just off I-80 in Annawan, Illinois.  Using rail and trucks involves a lot of logistics and Patriot’s Rick Vondra has noted that with the cold weather over the last couple months they, along with other ethanol plants, have had challenges in moving their product, in particular rail movement.

“It’s been a tremendous challenge and we’ve had to find alternative ways to move our product,” explained Vondra. He said they are using more trucks but so are other plants and on top of the increased demand from their plant and the ethanol industry, the trucks still have other products to deliver.

So how is the weather affecting the railroad industry? Vondra said snow and ice have been a big factor because rail workers have to go and move switches that can get frozen. They have to remove ice from lines and with temperatures getting as cold as 20 below zero, workers can’t be outside long.

With the goal of increased use of E15 and other higher blends of ethanol being a recurring theme during the conference, I asked Vondra what some of his takeaways of this conversation were. He noted that Patriot is working closely with retailers, wholesalers, distributors and car dealers in their local community to educate people on the benefits of ethanol, but also to encourage more adoption and use of ethanol in the community.

Listen to my interview with Rick where he talks about cold logistic challenges as well as their work on ethanol education. Interview with Rick Vondra, Patriot Renewable Fuels

2014 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC

NEVC to Become Growth Energy Market Development

nevcAt the 2009 Fuel Ethanol Workshop, the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) announced that it intends to unite with Growth Energy and become Growth Energy Market Development. In that role, they will continue in their 13-year mission to increase the availability of higher ethanol blends and flex fuel vehicles (FFVs). The additional resources will bolster Growth Energy’s aggressive goals to proliferate blender pumps across the country.

“For more than a decade, the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition has been carrying on the important mission of increasing the availability and use of ethanol,” said Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, Co-Chairman of Growth Energy. “We are excited that they decided to join forces with us and continue that work as a part of Growth Energy.”

growth_energyIn existence since 1996, the NEVC has assembled a broad coalition of like-minded industry and government leaders, environmentalists and consumers, and many other organizations and individuals interested in reducing oil imports, stimulating the economy, and improving the environment. The non-profit group had 1,600 members and their employees now become part of the Growth Energy team.

Phil Lampert, who was executive director of NEVC since 1997 and is now Vice President of Market Development for Growth Energy, said, “In 1995, the year before NEVC was founded, there were 10 E85 pumps and 500 FFVs in the United States. Today, we have more than 2,000 E85 and blender pumps and more than 8 million FFVs. As part of Growth Energy, I look forward to working with a wide variety of supportive groups and individuals to double or triple those numbers in the next few years.”

NEVC is the second ethanol association to become part of Growth Energy. The first was the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council which combined with Growth Energy late last year.

NEVC Forms Foundation

nevf_logo1The National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) has formed the National Ethanol Vehicle Foundation (NEVF). This foundation was introduced to provide Americans with an opportunity to contribute to advancing the nation’s use of renewable transportation fuels such as E85 and other high level blends of ethanol.

“The proceeds of funds contributed to the NEVF will solely be used to increase awareness of the benefits of using domestically produced ethanol as a form of alternative transportation fuel,” noted NEVC Executive Director Phil Lampert. “The NEVF strongly supports ethanol produced from both agricultural feed stocks and cellulosic materials.”

The NEVF’s mission will be to continue to promote a domestically produced fuel that: Advances jobs for Americans; reduces greenhouse gas emissions; and promotes American energy independence.

To make a 100% tax deductible contribution to the NEVF, click here.

Blend Labels Now Available Through the NEVC

NEVC E40Many fuel retailers have begun offering blends between 10 percent and 85 percent ethanol for flexible fuel vehicles. The National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) now has available E20, E30 and E40 labels for retailers to use for their blending pumps.

NEVC E40These labels are offered at a member rate and non-member rate. The coalition also offers the mandatory pump labeling for these blends. Besides blend pump labels, the NEVC offers a complete “pump imaging package” for E85 fueling stations. A listing of all items offered for pump labeling can be found by clicking here.

Ethanol Industry Formally Petitions for 15 Percent

ACEA broad alliance of ethanol industry groups have joined together to formally petition the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow the use of up to 15 percent ethanol in gasoline for motor vehicles, according to the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE).

RFAIn addition to ACE, the alliance includes Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), and the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC), as well as several major ethanol companies.

NEVC“The American Coalition for Ethanol is pleased to be part of this unified effort to submit scientific data to EPA so they may approve the use of mid-level blends of ethanol, such as E15, in motor vehicles nationwide,” said Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President of ACE. To encourage greater support in Congress for the mid-level blend waiver, ACE and 30 of its grassroots members traveled to Capitol Hill on March 2-3 as part of its “Biofuels Beltway March.” A varied group of ethanol advocates – including ethanol producers, farmers, investors, lenders, engineering and technology firms, agriculture groups, and rural electric cooperatives – met with more than 70 Members of Congress and with Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the EPA, to discuss E15 and other issues.

Growth Energy
Meanwhile, Growth Energy co-chairman General Wesley Clark will be delivering a speech about higher blends and the future of the ethanol industry as part of the National Press Club’s Newsmaker Series today at noon eastern time. They will also be holding a technical briefing after the press conference at 1:30 eastern.

NEVC Attends Commodity Classic

commodclassic_nevcboothThe National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) attended the 2009 Commodity Classic last week in Grapevine, Texas. The group has attended the event for more than ten years promoting E85 and flexible fuel vehicles. This was my tenth Commodity Classic attendance on behalf of the NEVC.

Phil Lampert, my Executive Director, NEVC Membership Director Haley Wansing and I met with many of the state corn grower groups to inform them of our successes and what our outlined plans are for the future. NEVC Vice-Chairman and Ohio Corn Growers Executive Director Dwayne Siekman said, “The Commodity Classic is an important time for policy development for the Ohio Corn Growers Association and we often confer with partnering organizations for background information. Without groups like the NEVC and their knowledge on higher ethanol blends and updates on certification of dispensing equipment, the policy development process may not be complete.”

commodclassic_nevcbooth2As part of the NEVC staff, I was pleased to see such an intense interest from every state on ethanol policy. Our group appreciates the support of the National Corn Growers Association and each of our fourteen corn grower state organizations.

The NEVC also sponsored a booth in the Commodity Classic’s exhibition hall. Displayed were two flexible fuel vehicles: a 2009 FFV King Ranch F-150 and a 2008 FFV GM Silverado (provided by CleanFUEL USA). I believe the attendees enjoyed seeing the FFV options that Ford and GM have available for use on their farms.

NEVC Applauds Inclusion of Tax Credit Improvement in Stimulus Package

nevcThe economic stimulus package, signed by President Obama, includes an increase in the federal income tax credit for alternative fuel infrastructure. The National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) played a lead role in the inclusion of this incentive and is confident this will lead to a more prominent position of high blends of ethanol in the marketplace.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or H.R. 1, increases the existing Federal alternative fuel infrastructure tax credit of $30,000 or 30 percent of the incremental cost, to $50,000 or 50 percent of the incremental cost. The NEVC began encouraging the inclusion of this additional tax incentive in November of 2008 by forwarding a letter to the Speaker of the House with nearly ninety industry leader signatures. The original infrastructure development provision was part of the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

More than seven million E85 compatible or flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) are currently driving on American roads. To date, only 1,958 E85 stations exist to fuel these FFVs. Furthermore, Chrysler, Ford Motor Company and General Motors all have promised to increase their flexible fuel model year availability in a few short years. The additional tax credit will assist those struggling fuel retailers to include this clean burning, alternative fuel to their stations.

According to Bernie Punt, chairman of the NEVC and general manager of Siouxland Energy and Livestock Coop., the increased federal income tax credit should be instrumental in the establishment of new fueling systems across the nation. Punt stated, “The NEVC has been focusing on the lack of E85 fueling infrastructure for the past several years. We lead the effort to establish the tax credit in 2005 and to increase the credit in the stimulus bill. The lack of fueling infrastructure remains the major impediment to using high-level blends of ethanol.”

Also included in the recently signed Stimulus Bill is a grant program providing $300 million to the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program to implement section 721 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The NEVC will be closely monitoring the planned distribution of these funds to encourage DOE to allocate significant portions of the monies to advance E85 fueling systems and educational/marketing efforts.

NEVC Elects New Board Members at Annual Meeting

nevcThe National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) recently elected five new members to three years terms on their Board of Directors. New members include: Shirley Ball of Ethanol Producers and Consumers ((EPAC) Ms. Ball was re-elected to an additional 3 year term); Don Borgman of John Deere; Tom May of MFA Oil Company; Dave Weber of Abengoa Bioenergy Trading; and DeVonna Zeug of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.

“It is a privilege for MFA Oil to have a retailer’s voice at the table with the rest of the valued stakeholders in the efforts to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, have cleaner emissions from our transportation sector and bring economic value to our country thru the NEVC’s continued efforts to promote higher level blends of ethanol,” said Tom May, director of marketing for MFA Oil Company. MFA Oil Company operates more than 50 E85 fueling stations throughout the Missouri, Iowa and Arkansas.

The NEVC also elected officers for 2009: Bernie Punt, general manager of Siouxland Energy and Livestock Cooperative of Sioux Center, Iowa will serve as the Board Chairman. Elected as Vice-Chairman was Dwayne Siekman, executive director of the Ohio Corn Growers Association. Scott Negley, director of North America Product Management of Dresser Wayne will be serving as Secretary of the NEVC. Finally, DeVonna Zeug, a corn and soybean farmer from Walnut Grove, Minnesota, will serve as Treasurer representing the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.

“We are pleased to welcome these industry leaders as new NEVC board members,” noted Chairman of the NEVC Bernie Punt. “The NEVC provides the opportunity of bringing together a group of stakeholders that can offer unique views while working together to promote high level blends of ethanol fuel in flexible fuel vehicles. We look forward to working with each of them in advancing this goal.”

NEVC to Hold 2008 Board and Membership Meeting in St. Louis

nevcThe National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) will be holding their 2008 Annual Board of Director and Membership Meeting at the Renaissance St. Louis Airport on January 26-27, 2009. The NEVC invites all to join automakers, marketers, commodity organizations, retailers, equipment manufacturers and MORE to discuss how to further the use of higher blends of ethanol throughout the country.

A schedule of events will be as follows:

Monday, January 26:
12 p.m. – 5 p.m.: Executive Session for NEVC Board Members
6 – 9 p.m.: Reception (ALL Welcome)

Tuesday, January 27:
8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.: Executive Session for NEVC Board Members
1 – 5 p.m.: Continuation of business meeting (ALL Welcome)

Guest speakers expected to attend on the afternoon of January 27 include representatives from the Department of Energy, Underwriters Laboratory, Renewable Fuels Association, Flex Fuel U.S., American Coalition for Ethanol, and more. Cost to attend the meeting is $50 per person. Contact Rhonda Beul,, or the NEVC office, (573) 635-8445, to register by Wednesday, January 21, 2009.

Sponsors for the event are: Ohio Corn Grower Assn., Dresser Wayne, Siouxland Energy and Livestock, Kansas Corn Growers Assn, Missouri Corn Growers Assn., John Deere, and Minnesota Corn Growers Assn.

Virginia E85 Station Pushes National Locations Over 1,900

lt_govbill_bollingThe Stop In Food Store #67 at 1220 Seminole Trail in Charlottesville, Virginia is the 1,900th E85 station in the U.S.! The facility held its ribbon cutting ceremony just this week where Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (shown left) pumped the first tank of E85.

“We are pleased to own the first public E85 retail location in Virginia and proud to offer a clean alternative transportation fuel,” noted Tom Turner of Stop In Food Stores. The facility was assisted with funds granted through the Virginia Clean Cities Coalition.

The location has twelve gasoline, two E85 and two biodiesel fueling nozzles. A 10,000 gallon compartment tank is used and holds 4,000 gallons of biodiesel and 6,000 gallons of E85. The station is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and offers a 2,400 square foot convenience store which includes a Subway restaurant.

“It’s encouraging to see the number of E85 stations continue to grow even as we deal with issues relating to testing lab certifications and low price of gasoline,” noted National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) Executive Director, Phil Lampert. “We are excited to be able to achieve this significant milestone of 1,900 E85 fueling facilities! The NEVC and all our national partners look forward to working with the Obama Administration and Congress to continue advance the role of ethanol in reducing our nation’s dependence on imported petroleum.”

At this time last year, there were a total of 1,430 E85 stations across the U.S. For a complete listing of E85 fueling locations, visit