REG Distributing Biodiesel at Minnesota Refinery

Biodiesel is now available via truck and rail from the Renewable Energy Group’s (REG) newly acquired Minnesota production facility, REG Albert Lea, LLC. The first truckload of biodiesel was picked up August 25 for the Trail’s Travel Center truck stop in Albert Lea along I-35.

REG VP Gary Haer says customers have the option to pick up either B99 or B100 at the 30 million gallon per year facility. “We are offering REG-9000/1 biodiesel ideal for harvest tank fills and meeting demand created by Minnesota’s B5 requirement and the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2),” said Haer.

REG bought the former SoyMor Biodiesel plant in July, after the plant had been idled since 2008. REG was the general contractor and manager for the refined vegetable oil feedstock biodiesel plant which originally began production in April 2005. Officials hope to upgrade the facility to process a wide variety of lower cost natural fats and oils including used cooking oil, inedible corn oil from ethanol production, and high free fatty acid materials.

REG is the largest biodiesel producer in the United States and the REG Albert Lea facility brings their total owned/operated capacity to more than 210 million gallons.

In the photo, supplied by REG, Trails Travel is the first fill for REG Albert Lea – left to right, Steve Klingman, General Manager, Trail’s Travel Center, Albert Lea, Minn; Myron Danzer, General Manager, REG Albert Lea, REG; Rocky Trail, owner, Trail’s Travel Center; Tom Schroeder, Biodiesel Sales Manager, REG; Debbie Morgan, Trail’s Travel Center; Bob Knutson, Knutson Oil, Glenville, Minn (biodiesel hauler)

Missouri Leads in Ethanol Blender Pump Plans

Missouri has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the leader in ethanol blender pumps.

During the Missouri State Fair, an official from USDA’s Rural Development agency paid a visit to recognize Missouri as the national leader in renewable energy. Through a partnership with the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council (MCMC), the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri fuel retailers have been approved to install 26 biofuel pumps – more than any other state in the nation.

“It’s the Show-Me State and they’re showing us alright,” USDA Rural Development Business Program Administrator Judy Canales said during a speech at the Missouri Corn booth. “It behooves Missouri because in the long run this is going to be a locally grown product that is creating and keeping jobs in rural communities. That’s why we’re so pleased to have this partnership with Missouri Corn.”

“Missouri Corn is leading the charge in growing Missouri’s use of renewable fuels and giving consumers choices at the pump,” noted Missouri Corn Director of Ethanol Policy Bradley Schad. “By providing these ethanol options, consumers can now choose a lower cost fuel alternative for their vehicle while supporting Missouri’s rural economy, keeping dollars here at home and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. We commend the USDA for their efforts to expand the availability of biofuels for consumers.”

In this photo from Missouri Corn, Canales and Schad pose with other members of the partnership at the Missouri State Fair. Left to right: Missouri Corn board member Rob Korff of Norborne, Mo.; Matt Moore, Missouri USDA Rural Development business program director; Barry Hart, executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives; Judy Canales, USDA Rural Development business program administrator; Bradley Schad, Missouri Corn director of ethanol policy; Gary Marshall, Missouri Corn CEO; Janie Dunning, Missouri state director USDA Rural Development; Kenny McNamar, Missouri Corn Growers Association president from Gorin, Mo.; and Billy Thiel, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council chairman from Marshall, Mo.

Read more from Missouri Corn here.

Solar Alliance Questions NJ’s Solar Commitment

New Jersey has been heavily promoting its addition of solar energy across the state but today the Solar Alliance criticized New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for his administration’s conclusions about the merits of the state’s Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) program as part of the Energy Master Plan (EMP).

“While the Draft EMP successfully lays out New Jersey’s energy needs, it excludes solar as an energy source and investment opportunity. Further it contains factual inaccuracies. The type of rigorous analysis encouraged by the EMP must be based on the best and most current information available and not on lingering stereotypes,” said Carrie Cullen Hitt, President of the Solar Alliance.

The SREC’s have been a big factor in the investment in and installment of dozens of solar projects in the state. The loss of the program could dramatically slow the growth of solar energy in the state. The Solar Alliance says they agree with EMP’s focus on rigorous “net economic benefit” analysis but claims that the plan does not apply the benefit equally. They continued by saying many of the costs cited are outdated or misconstrued while the benefits of solar have been overlooked or de-emphasized.

The national solar association cited a few specific examples: the BPU should quantify all value streams associated with solar when applying a ‘net economic benefit test'; the EMP should use updated, universally recognized cost estimates of solar technology; and the EMP should reassess its interpretation of the rate impact of the SREC Program, which is less than 1/2 percent.

Hitt added, “We may debate the methodology for measuring benefits of solar, but their existence is undeniable and their omission from the Draft EMP extremely disappointing. This unfortunately leads to an incomplete picture of the role that solar can play in creating jobs, new investment and clean, reliable electricity for New Jersey.”

“As currently drafted, the EMP will restrict New Jersey solar businesses from creating jobs and deploying clean, reliable solar electricity,” he concluded.

U.S. Government Commissions EV Charging Stations

The U.S. government has commissioned the installation of several electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and has selected Envision Solar International to design, develop and install the system. The company has already begun installation of 15 EV charging enabled Solar Tree structures utilizing the company’s patent pending tracking systems. The project is expected to be complete by the end of 2011.

“Our ability to deliver high quality products to equally high quality customers with whom we have huge scaling potential is key to our growth strategy,” said Envision Solar’s President and CEO, Desmond Wheatley. “This deployment of 15 of our CleanCharge enabled EnvisionTrak Solar Tree structures for the world’s largest customer is another significant indication of our ability to repeatedly execute on that strategy. We are proud and delighted to have been selected for this very high visibility project and look forward to many more.”

Robert Noble, the company’s chairman and founder added, “We are excited about seeing 15 of our iconic, archetypal “Smart Trees” deployed at this highly visible location right here in our home town, San Diego. For many years to come, visitors to this Solar Grove will be able to charge their EVs, see clean energy generation in action, up close, and experience the sheer pleasure of a shady park of beautiful Solar Trees. It is truly an honor for us to be working on such a forward-looking project which we know will be a powerful demonstration of the government’s growing real commitment to a sustainable future.”

Ethanol & FFV’s Promoted During State Fair

Today marks the first day of the 142nd Nebraska State Fair and the Nebraska Corn Board along with the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) are on site to promote ethanol and flex fuel vehicles. The two associations have booths set up in the Exhibition Building to focus on ethanol education.

The groups are splitting duties: NEB will focus on FFV awareness and the economic benefits ethanol provides to both local and state communities and the national economy. “Ethanol is a cleaner, more inexpensive, renewable alternative to gasoline. Drivers want fuel choice, and high ethanol blend fuels like E85 allows them to save money, support Nebraska’s economy, and reduce pollution,” said Todd Sneller, Administrator of NEB.

Next door, the Nebraska Corn Board will have a blender pump on display with jars of corn representing corn production from 1930, 2011 and the future, complimented with a video showing the faces of Nebraska farmers.“There are approximately 100,000 FFVs in Nebraska and nearly 90 percent of consumers don’t know they drive a flex fuel vehicle,” said Kim Clark, Ag Program Manager from the Nebraska Corn Board. “The Nebraska State Fair is a great opportunity to educate consumers from all parts of the state about flex fuel vehicles and ethanol.”

On Saturday, September 3, from 3:00 – 4:00 pm, there will be a “Do You Flex Fuel?” presentation. On hand to answer questions will be an auto mechanic, fuel retailer, ethanol expert and automobile salesperson. Finally, to showcase ethanol in action, the groups will host an ethanol blended fuel promotion beginning Saturday, September 3rd through September 5th. FFV drivers will see discounts on mid-level ethanol blends include a 20 cent discount on E20, 30 cents on E30 and 85 cents on E85. Click here for details on the FFV fuel promotions.

NCGA Highlights NASCAR Program at ACE Event

During the American Coalition for Ethanol Conference this past week in Des Moines, Iowa, the attendees were treated to a presentation on green NASCAR initiatives including their use of ethanol, by Bart Schott, the president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). During the session, Schott highlighted the media attention that has been focused on the Series’ use of E15 as as well as how its American Ethanol alliance partners have used the sponsorship as a springboard to communicate the benefits of domestically produced corn-based ethanol.

American ethanol became a NASCAR sponsor in order to reach its 80 million plus fans. As such, the league switched the fuel used by all three series to Sunoco Green E15 during the 2011 season. Scott said this has become a platform for both the ethanol industry as well as NASCAR to highlight the environmental benefits of ethanol, as well as its performance and security benefits. In addition its an opportunity to promote the role American farmers play in the movement toward biofuels.

“An average size ethanol plant adds $275 million dollars to the state economy annually,” said Schott. “Furthermore, it creates 1,540 jobs, both directly and indirectly, in rural America at a time when increasing employment opportunities in our heartland is critical. With ethanol we avoid sending oil dollars overseas and actually create job opportunities for hard working Americans.”

Scott said that through the end of June, positive messages about ethanol were delivered to nearly 6 million NASCAR fans through the televised races. This exposure equates to more than $7.5 million. This is important audience because NASCAR fans are three times more likely to purchase products and services from sponsors than non-fans.

“In addition to more traditional advertisements aired by NASCAR to promote ethanol, television coverage of races has emphasized the importance of ethanol in a multitude of ways,” said Schott. “From in-car cameras and mention by announcers to the placement of the American Ethanol logo on the fuel port of every car, this initiative generated an additional $2.8 million dollars in broadcast exposure media by the end of June, when the season was only half over.”

He concluded by stressing that the need for ethanol is too great and the opportunities too boundless for the nation to maintain the status quo.

Compressed Natural Gas Station Opens in Santa Ana

A new compressed natural gas fueling station has been opened in Santa Ana, California by Waste Management of Orange County. PetroCard operates the Clean N’ Green station and will sell CNG to commercial fleets including transit agencies, school districts, taxis, cities, and municipalities. Supporters of CNG say that the price of fuel is one-third below the cost of gasoline and diesel. In addition, they say nitrogen oxide emissions are reduced by up to 50 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by over 21 percent and more than 80 percent when using landfill gas derived CNG and LNG fuel.

“CNG is addressing two of the biggest imperatives for fleet owners today – reducing costs and decreasing emissions,” said Steve Tolton, CEO of PetroCard. “Our collaboration with Waste Management at this facility makes it more convenient for fleet owners to save money at the pump while shrinking their carbon footprint from operations.”

Waste Management has also added new infrastructure to fuel its existing fleet of CNG recycling and trash collection vehicles at the Santa Ana site. The company currently operates the largest fleet of heavy-duty natural gas trucks in North America. Approximately 80 percent of these natural gas trucks operate in Southern California including 141 natural gas powered trucks in Orange County.

“We are dedicated to doing business in the most sustainable way possible as well as offering our customers more ways to live green,” said Jason Rose, general manager and vice president of Waste Management of San Diego and Orange County. “Natural gas powered vehicles run cleaner and quieter, improving air quality and reducing noise pollution. Santa Ana can look forward to cleaner air and neighborhoods as we get more CNG vehicles on the road.”

New Biodiesel Terminal Opens in St. Paul

A new large biofuel blending terminal is now open in St. Paul. Opened by Rosemont Clean Energies, they believe the facility is the only one of its kind and scale in the Upper Midwest. The “green” built, non waste generating terminal offers biofuel injection blending, is located next to a large-scale rail spur and has nearly a half million barrels of storage capacity. It can receive and ship products by rail, cars, trucks, tanks, and pipeline.

“Biofuels are here to stay,” said Tim Yocum, one of the principles and chief manager of Rosemount Clean Energies. “Canada just announced a 2 percent biodiesel requirement. Minnesota is going to 10 percent next spring. This new terminal will allow greater distribution of biofuels right where crops are grown and biofuels are produced.”

“Combine this with our refineries’ ability to produce ultra-low sulfur diesel from North Dakota and Canadian crude, and we have opened a huge channel for energy independence through local supply,” he added.

Rosemount says another advantage they offer is the efficient mechanism to actually test biodiesel in the marketplace.

“Initially, the industry struggled with the roll-out of biodiesel.The ability of this terminal to customize products through injection blending ensures greater accuracy and a consistent product that takes the reliability question of fuel out of the equation,” said Yocum.

“Now,” assures Yocum, “we can perfect biodiesel and additive blending in a highly efficient manner, collaborate with all parties to find an efficient medium to deliver new products to the marketplace, and offer marketers and energy users a range of high-performance products specific to their applications and market demands.”

Sonoma High Schools Go Solar

School has started for many kids across the country and its no exception for the students of West Sonoma County Union High School District. But this year the students came back to a little face lift. The school has commissioned its 834 kW solar power system that should provide 80 percent of its power needs and Analy, El Molino and Laguna High Schools. The system, which is a combination of roof panels and ground mounted panels, was designed by Real Goods Solar and engineered and installed in less than four months.

WSCUHSD Superintendent Keller McDonald said, “Using solar will save the school district approximately $250,000 a year, plus the state of California will be providing an incentive for building the project of approximately $1.1 million, to be paid out over the next five years.”

The 2,600 Sunpower 320 modules are 70 percent elevated and 30 percent ground mounted. The district is expected to produce nearly 1,250 megawatt hours of electricity per year, or the enough to power 300 average sized homes. The students will be getting hands-on lessons in renewable energy and through Real Goods Solar’s curriculum and 12-acre solar demonstration center, called the Solar Living Institute.

Tyson Grul, Director of Commercial Solar for Real Goods added, “As a graduate of WSCUHSD, I find it particularly gratifying to be helping reduce its carbon footprint. With school continually facing budget cuts, this is a great example of a district taking control over its financial future and proving that ‘green energy’ is good for the environment and the economy.”

CCSE Residential Energy Roadshow Kicks Off in Cali

A CCSE Residential Energy Roadshow has kicked off an 18-week tour in San Diego, California designed to “educate and inspire” Southern Californians to learn more about energy saving technologies, alternative fuel transportation and energy efficiency. The sponsors are the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE), ROUSH CleanTech and Ferrellgas.

“Thanks to generous donations from ROUSH CleanTech and Ferrellgas, hundreds of thousands of Californians will be able to learn about home energy efficiency, solar energy and the products and incentives available to them when visiting the mobile exhibit,” said Irene Stillings, CCSE executive director. “This is a perfect example of how multiple clean technologies can work together to demonstrate energy savings, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote more sustainable practices.”

The tour includes a trailer that is being towed by a Ford F-250 pickup converted to run on propane autogas. When the truck needs to fill up, it will roll on into one of Ferrellgas’s 200 propane stations to refuel. In addition to ROUSH and Ferrallgas, the tour is also funded with money from the Department of Energy’s BetterBuildings Neighborhood program along with two state programs: Energy Upgrade California and go Solar California!

“Ferrellgas is proud to partner with the California Center for Sustainable Energy and ROUSH CleanTech to educate Californians about ways to save money and the environment by implementing energy efficiency solutions in their homes and at their businesses,” said George Koloroutis, president of Ferrell North America and senior vice president of Ferrellgas. “As the nation’s leading propane retailer, we’ve been doing just that for more than 70 years.”

Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for ROUSH said that this is a great way demonstrate that propane autogas is the most readily deployable and flexible alternative fuel that can immediately address air concerns.