Florida House Committee Passes FL RFS Repeal Bill

Chuck Zimmerman

Florida House of RepresentativesYesterday I traveled to Tallahassee, Florida to testify at a hearing of the Florida House of Representatives Regulatory Affairs Committee on HB 4001 which is a bill to repeal the Florida Renewable Fuel Standard. This hearing was actually an extension of one held previously that ran out of time to conclude. You can watch the session here. The portion on HB 4001 starts about 39 minutes in and you can easily fast forward to it.

When you see the bill sponsor, Representative Matt Gaetz, introduce the session you’ll understand my compulsion to attend to try to help clear up the numerous things he said about ethanol that are just plain wrong. These include the now completely dis-credited food vs. fuel debate, that it harms automobile engines, that it is bad for the environment, etc. It’s all out of the play book of large oil companies and large food company interests. I was not alone in opposition to this bill. Some of the others testifying in opposition included Bradley Krohn, President, United States EnviroFuels, LLC and Bobby Likis, Bobby Likis Car Clinic. There were a number of others that you’ll see in the video recording.

Unfortunately, the bill passed by a narrow margin. A companion bill is in the Florida Senate, SB 320. After the session I spoke with both Bradley and Bobby to get their thoughts on the action taken by this committee.

Bradley says his company has been developing a 30 million gallon advanced ethanol plant project which will use sugar cane and sweet sorghum as primary feedstocks. They are very close to construction. He says the House committee got it wrong, buying into a lot of myths about ethanol. This sends a chilling effect to the financial community for investing in advanced biofuel projects in the state of Florida. His company is in the process still of funding their project. He says it sends a message that Florida doesn’t care about economic stimulus and job creation. There was an attempt to pass this bill last year that stalled on the Senate side and he hopes that will happen again this year.

Listen to my interview with Bradley Krohn here: Interview with Bradley Krohn

Bobby Likis also testified and corrected a number of factual errors that were presented to the committee, especially on how ethanol performs in an engine. He was very disappointed by the committee vote in the face of overwhelming evidence that the Florida RFS is working and reducing the cost of gas to Floridians. He says it will make him fight harder to make sure the bill doesn’t pass at the Senate. He says that if it does pass and the price of gas goes up in Florida we should call it a Gaetz Tax!

Listen to my interview with Bobby Likis here: Interview with Bobby Likis

Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Government

UCSB Hosting Summit on Energy Efficiency

Joanna Schroeder

UC Santa Barbara’s Institute for Energy Efficiency is hosting the 2013 Summit on Energy Efficiency on May 1-2, 2013. The forum will focus on the latest innovations in materials science and technology for energy generation, energy storage, lighting, and electronics. The event is designed to provide dialogue about how advancements in materials science and technology can meet future energy needs through efficiency improvements.

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 11.40.00 AM“We are all aware of the energy crisis that we as a society are facing. The goal of the Summit is to gather experts and policy leaders, discuss the latest science and technology for energy efficiency and renewable energy, and to stimulate everyone to think in new ways,” said Dr. John Bowers, Director of the Institute for Energy Efficiency.

This year’s summit, held at The Fess Parker Resort in Santa Barbara, is attracting high-profile panelists who are leading major research and development efforts in energy efficiency and materials science. This year’s Summit program emphasizes the theme of “Materials for a Sustainable Energy Future,” featuring an opening keynote on materials science innovations by Steven Chu, outgoing U.S. Secretary of Energy. Featured keynote speakers also include: Michael McQuade of United Technologies Corporation; George Crabtree, Director of the newly established DOE Battery Hub at Argonne National Laboratory; and Kateri Callahan President of the Alliance to Save Energy.

Guest panelists from Soraa, Cree, Intel, Ciena, Pellion Technologies, Southern California Edison, PG&E, U.S. Department of Energy, Ames Research Laboratory, MIT, Yale, and UC Santa Barbara will lead discussions on the following topics: Materials for Energy Technology; Innovations in Solid-State Lighting; Information and Communications Technology; Electrochemical Energy Storage Technology; Utilities discussion on Energy Efficiency; and High Efficiency Power Electronics.

Click here to register and for more information.

Education, energy efficiency, Environment

Mascoma Drops IPO

Joanna Schroeder

mascoma logoAccording to several sources, Mascoma Corporation has withdrawn its registration for its planned initial public offering (IPO). The company had hoped to raise as much as $100 million through the offering. The biofuel company has been focused on developing enzymes for breakdown of sugars in the cellulosic ethanol production process.

In a filing, the company said it had determined not to proceed at this time with the offering due to market conditions. Mascoma is the fourth biofuel company to cancel or delay IPO’s since last year. Enerkem Inc. canceled its planned IPO in April, followed by Fulcrum BioEnergy Inc. in November, and Coskata Inc. shelved its deal in July.

advance biofuels, Cellulosic, Ethanol

Renewable Fuel Standard Working for Most

Talia Goes

Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Do you support continuing the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)?”

Our poll results: Fifty-seven percent say Yes, It’s Working, Twenty-nine percent say No, It’s Not Working, twelve percent ask What is the RFS?, and a small portion at two percent say Other. Over half of you support the continuation of the Renewable Fuel Standard. For those who ask what is the RFS? The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program regulations were developed by EPA in collaboration with refiners, renewable fuel producers, and many other stakeholders. The RFS program requires 36 billion gallons of renewable- fuel to be blended into gasoline by 2022.

Untitled

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “Has winter weather affected drought conditions in your area?” Drought conditions coupled with below average snowfall is resulting in low topsoil moisture. Do you think this will impact the 2013 growing season? Let us know.

ZimmPoll is sponsored by New Holland Agriculture.

New Holland, ZimmPoll

Rural GA Economic Recovery & Solar Act Introduced

Joanna Schroeder

SolarCapitol9aeac5Georgia State Rep. Rusty Kidd (Independent – Milledgeville) has introduced the Rural Georgia Economic Recovery and Solar Resource Act of 2014, that if passed, would create greater access to solar and an economic opportunity for rural Georgia. According to Georgia Solar Utilities, the bill would bust the current monopoly on solar in Georgia and allow competitive bidding for construction of new solar projects by private companies, ensuring costs to drop and deliver real price-savings to customers.

What the bill does: 1) Provides a 100% voluntary solar program that would allow ratepayers to opt-in on their monthly bill. 2) Lowers power bills for customers who take advantage of the failing costs of Georgia-grown solar energy. 3) Opens the marketplace for competition in the solar industry, under the supervision of the Georgia Public Service Commission. 4) leverages private-sector investment to finance solar projects, not taxpayer subsidies. 5) Compensates utilities for grid access and other electricity transmission costs.

Georgia Solar Utilities is asking that solar supporters send a thank you note to the sponsors of the bill to help garner support. They are:

Chief Sponsor: Rep. Rusty Kidd: 404.656.0202
Co-Sponsors:

Electricity, Energy, Legislation, Solar

Burned Garbage Could Become Hydrogen Fuel

John Davis

IlyasResearchers at a Swedish university might have come up with a way to turn ash from burned garbage into hydrogen. Lund University reports a scientist there has a thesis that says the process could produce 20 billion litres of hydrogen gas a year, enough to power 11,000 homes.

“The ash can be used as a resource through recovery of hydrogen gas instead of being allowed to be released into the air as at present. Our ash deposits are like a goldmine”, said Aamir Ilyas, Doctor of Water Resources Engineering at Lund University and the developer of the technique. Refuse incineration is a widespread practice in Europe.

The technique involves placing the ash in an oxygen-free environment. The ash is dampened with water, whereupon it forms hydrogen gas. The gas is sucked up through pipes and stored in tanks.

It is the heavy, grit-like bottom ash that is used. In combustion, a lighter fly ash is also formed. The bottom ash remains in quarantine, in the open air, at the site for up to six months to prevent leaching of environmentally harmful metals and the risk of hydrogen gas being formed, since accumulation of hydrogen during indoor storage can result in explosion.

Ilyas adds this will keep a lot of ash out of landfills.

Hydrogen

Cal Energy Comm. Gives $5.5 Mil for Green Projects

John Davis

weisenmiller1Several projects ranging from biodiesel to electric vehicles to propane will be the benefactors of $5.5 million in California Energy Commission awards from the Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program:

“These investments are moving the state forward toward a clean transportation sector,” said Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller. “Today’s awards will help to expand renewable biofuels, further the development of zero emission vehicles, and provide incentives to make alternative fuel vehicles more affordable. These projects protect the environment and public health, while keeping California in the lead in developing green transportation technologies.”

Buster Biofuels, LLC, based in the San Diego area, will receive $2,641,723 to convert a 7,300 square foot industrial warehouse building into a biodiesel manufacturing and fueling facility. The facility will create biodiesel from renewable waste-based materials such as used cooking oil from restaurants. The chemical process used separates the glycerin from fats or oils, leaving biodiesel and glycerin.

Motiv Power Systems, Inc., based in Foster City (San Mateo County), will receive $2,379,050 to establish a pilot production line capable of assembling 20 Motiv Electric Power Control Systems a month. Each system is comprised of electronic components that can be used with a variety of batteries and motors and installed on conventional medium- and heavy-duty chassis, modifying them into all-electric battery operated vehicles that have no tailpipe emissions.

The rest of the nearly $500,000 in awards will go toward purchasing propane vehicles.

Biodiesel, Electric Vehicles, Propane

American University Switching to More Biodiesel

John Davis

GWRCCC logo1Well, we might not like a lot of things coming out of the nation’s capital, but this one’s pretty good. American University in Washington, D.C. is switching to a 20 percent biodiesel blend for its campus shuttles. This article in Biodiesel Magazine says they’ll highlight the change during an April 2 event with the Greater Washington Region Clean Cities Coalition as part of the school’s epic Earth Month celebration:

Sponsored by the GWRCCC and the United Soybean Board, the biodiesel gathering will focus on biodiesel use in public and private fleets. The agenda features speakers from the USB and American University Fleet Management, and representatives from the National Biodiesel Board will be available to talk about biodiesel quality.

AUFM personnel will speak about the challenges and successes to implementation, and USB representatives will talk about and respond to the effective use of biodiesel in major fleet operations.

The event runs from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm at the Quad in front of Mary Graydon Center at American University, and you can even catch a biodiesel shuttle from the metro station as well as getting a free lunch! Make your reservation to be at the event by March 29. Click here to RSVP.

Biodiesel, USB

Solar in Review 2012

Joanna Schroeder

GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has recently released the U.S. Solar Market Insight: Year-in-Review 2012. According to the reporScreen Shot 2013-03-26 at 12.28.27 PMt, solar is the fastest growing energy source in the U.S. The Solar Market Insight annual edition shows the U.S. installed 3,313 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaics (PV) in 2012, a record for the industry.

Even with the cost of solar falling for consumers, the market size of the U.S. solar industry grew 34 percent from $8.6 billion in 2011 to $11.5 billion in 2012—not counting billions of dollars in other economic benefits across states and communities. As of the end of 2012, there were 7,221 MW of PV and 546 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) online in the U.S.– enough to power 1.2 million homes.

At the state level, 2012 was another year for breaking records. California became the first state to install over 1,000 MW in one year, with growth across all market segments. Arizona came in as the second largest market, led by large-scale utility installations, while New Jersey experienced growth in the state’s non-residential market. The top 10 largest state solar markets in 2012 were: 1. California – 1,033; 2. Arizona – 710; 3. New Jersey – 415; 4. Nevada – 198; 5. North Carolina – 132; 6. Massachusetts – 129; 7. Hawaii – 109; 8. Maryland – 74; 9. Texas – 64; 10. New York – 60 MW of PV installed during 2012.

Key Report Findings include:

  • PV installations grew 76% in 2012 to reach 3,313 MW
  • There are now more than 300,000 PV systems operating across the U.S.
  • The U.S. installed 11% of all global PV in 2012, the highest market share in at least fifteen years
  • Cumulative PV capacity operating in the U.S. as of the end of 2012 stood at 7,221 MW and cumulative operating concentrating solar stood at 546 MW
  • Twelve states installed over 50 MW of solar each in 2012, up from eight in 2011
  • Weighted average PV system prices fell 27% in 2012, reaching $5.04/W in the residential market, $4.27/W in the non-residential market, and $2.27/W in the utility market

There were over 90,000 solar installations in 2012, including 83,000 in the residential market alone. The non-residential segment, which includes commercial, governmental, and non-profit systems, installed more than 1,000 MW in 2012. Leading non-residential markets included California, New Jersey, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Hawaii.

Alternative energy, Electricity, Energy, Solar

Engine Products Group Appeals E15 Partial Waiver

Joanna Schroeder

The Engine Products Group (EPG) is challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to grant partial waivers approving the sale of gasoline containing E15 (fifteen percent ethanol, eighty-five percent gasoline) for 2001 model year and new passenger cars and light trucks. The Court of Appeals dismissed the case in August 2012 for lack of jurisdiction.

Today, EPG has filed a petition for certiorari today asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the DC Circuit Court of Appeals’ August 2012 decision that none of the trade associations or parties had standing in the case. Members of the organization include the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Alliance), The Association of Global Automakers, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) and the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

AAMLogo“OPEI, as part of the Engine Products Group, has filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to review the DC Circuit Court of Appeals’ claim that we did not have standing to challenge the EPA on a partial waiver for E-15,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute. “This appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court reflects the seriousness of this issue for the outdoor power equipment and small engine industry.  We feel strongly that this challenge to the E-15 partial waiver needs to be considered on its merits, and not held back on a procedural issue.  We will push on to protect our consumers from the engine failure and product harm that comes from mis-fueling with E-15.”

The petition asks the Supreme Court to accept the case for review. If the Supreme Court accepts the case, the parties will then ask that court to reverse the Court of Appeal’s ruling and find the parties have the right to challenge EPA’s partial waiver decisions that allow sale of E15 for some passenger cars and light trucks but not older vehicles and not for use in motorcycles, boats and off road engines.

According to EPG, their concern is their customers. They say it is critical that consumers have a positive experience with renewable fuels, which are an important component of our national energy security. EPG concludes, that it is not in the longer term interest of consumers, the government, and all parties involved to discover, after the fact, that equipment or performance problems are occurring because a new fuel was rushed into the national marketplace.

E15, Equipment, Ethanol