The Iowa Senate passed a bill this week to create a biodiesel tax credit for retailers, as well as include biodiesel in the 25 percent of petroleum displacement the state would require by 2020. The amended bill now moves back to the state House, which passed an earlier version by a vote of 92-7. National Biodiesel Board officials are hoping other states might follow Iowa’s lead. “Iowa is demonstrating bold leadership by promoting renewable biodiesel and ethanol,” said Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board CEO. “It is positioning itself as a significant energy exporter and could become the Texas of the Midwest.”
US BioEnergy Corporation will soon be the sole owner of Val-E Ethanol near Ord, Nebraska. According to a company release, they have entered into a letter of intent with the minority owners of Val-E to acquire the remaining ownership interest of the company. Last month US BioEnergy announced its intention to acquire the majority ownership of Val-E and Platte Valley Fuel Ethanol, LLC. Val-E Ethanol has an expected completion date of summer, 2007.
Xethanol Corporation is setting its sites westward. According to a company release, they have hired a west coast venture capitalist to explore strategic growth opportunities for Xethanol in the large and expanding California ethanol market. Christopher d’Arnaud-Taylor, Xethanol’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, says they are currently focused on the company’s east coast regional roll out (see previous post), but they want to be ready to tackle the California market when the time comes. “California’s demand for ethanol is about one third of the current US market. Almost all of the 900 million gallons of ethanol consumed in California in 2004, equal to more than $1.3 billion, was imported by rail or ship, mainly from Corn-Belt ethanol producers. California presently hosts production of only 8 million gallons per year at two small-scale operations, although there are ambitious plans to build several more plants that will primarily use corn as feedstock. We expect that California will be a huge opportunity for us to deploy cutting edge technologies for the conversion of low cost biomass and other waste streams to ethanol.”
Ethanol plants are popping up like prarie dogs in Nebraska.
Coming up April 24th, Mid America Agri Products/Horizon will host a ground breaking ceremony for a plant in Cambridge. According to this Grainnet report, the first phase of the two-phase project will cost $70 million and produce 44 million gallons a year. It’s the second Nebraska project for Mid America Bio-Energy & Commodities of North Platte, the other is in Madrid, due to start up in December 2006.
Also this week, Phelps County Ethanol, a subsidiary of Midwest Ethanol Producers, Inc. announced plans to build an 100 million gallon/year ethanol plant near Holdrege, according to this news release. MEPI is also currently in the permitting stages for a 100 MMGY Plant in O’Neill.
Thanks to our friend Erick Erickson of Holdrege for passing along those stories.
The plenary breakfast speaker today, R. James Woolsey, Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton, Former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, just finished speaking. He really focused on how biotechnology can play a role in our national security. Besides what most people probably think of first in terms of cures or innoculants for bio-terror induced disease he spent a while talking about energy and independence from terrorist controlled foreign oil.
You can hear his comments on the role biotechnology can play in the renewable fuels area here: James Woolsey (6 min MP3)
Illinois farmer, banker, ethanol plant CEO and RFA board member Ray Defenbaugh was one of several people who spoke to a group of visiting agricultural journalists during a media reception sponsored by the US Grains Council and Illinois Corn Growers at the BIO 2006 conference in Chicago that concludes Thursday. Chuck interviewed Ray after his presentation and you can hear that conversation here: Defenbaugh (2:45 MP3)
The media has been sounding the alarm about higher gas prices today, following the release of the Energy Information Administration’s latest forecast. What’s interesting is that the report shifts the blame for the rising prices from ethanol to the oil industry, which the Renewable Fuels Association was quick to point out in a press release.
EIA Administrator Guy Caruso said consumers can expect gasoline prices to be 25 cents higher on average this summer. Caruso attributed 19 cents of that increase (or 76%) to high world oil price and said that the increased use of ethanol would affect gasoline prices by “just a few pennies.”
“Today’s report from EIA is a much more accurate reflection of what is going on in the gasoline and ethanol markets as refiners voluntarily eliminate MTBE from the nation’s gasoline supply,” said Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen. “Were it not for the tremendous growth of the U.S. ethanol industry and the availability of ethanol, refiners’ decisions to eliminate MTBE this spring would send gas prices through the roof.”
RFA also sent out a Fact Sheet about ethanol and gas prices that seems to have been heard by the media, as most articles have either not mentioned ethanol at all or just briefly in reference to the MTBE transition. AAA blamed it all on the government, according to CNN Money, quoting spokesman Geoff Sundstrom. “The refining industry has had to go on a crash course conversion to ethanol, and of course it’s coming at the worst possible time,” he said. “It seems the whole process could have been managed better by the federal government.”
The latest “Fill Up, Feel Good” podcast from the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council is about Jeff Simmons, new driver for the #17 Team Ethanol Honda/Panoz/Firestone Indy Car (see previous post). The podcast features comments from both Jeff and EPIC executive director Tom Slunecka discussing the future for Team Ethanol and how Paul Dana’s legacy will live on in the IRL.
The “Fill up, Feel Good” podcast is available to download by subscription (see our sidebar link) or you can listen to it by clicking here. (5:00 MP3 File)
It wasn’t real easy but I was able to ask llinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich, a quick question after he cut the ribbon prior to the trade show here at BIO 2006.
I asked him about agriculture since I only had one question and in his answer he mentions renewable energy and corn and soybeans.
You can listen to his answer here: Governor Blagojevich (1 min MP3)
The #17 Team Ethanol car is on display here at BIO 2006 in the Novozymes booth. Nobozymes is one of the sponsors of the car. It seems like the presence of biotech companies at BIO is on the increase.
I interviewed company VP, Jorgen Thorball about how Novozymes is involved in the production of ethanol. It’s all about enzymes. The enzyme products his company produces are being used in the production of ethanol to increase the efficiency and cost-effectivess of the process. He says they’ve made great strides and that this will only continue.
You can listen to my interview with him here: Jorgen Thorball (6 min MP3)