Propel 8th Fastest Growing Company in Silicon Valley

Joanna Schroeder

Propel Fuels was recognized as the 8th fastest growing company in Silicon Vally by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal as part of their Fast Private Awards. The award was based on a three-year growth rate in revenues of more than 400 percent. Today, Propel operates 28 fueling locations throughout California and Washington state with more than 200 locations planned for the next two years.

“With more than 1 million alternative fuel capable vehicles on California’s roads right now, Propel must continue to grow our network of stations to meet the rising demand from consumers who want cleaner mobility options and a better choice at the pump,” said Matt Horton, CEO of Propel. “We thank our growing base of loyal customers for helping us receive this recognition as we improve access to renewable fuels, and make progress on our nation’s clean energy goals.”

Propel is one of the leading retailers who offer renewable fuel blends such as E85 and biodiesel blends as well as conventional gasoline. Yet unlike most retailers, Propel offers services beyond the pump including the ability for drivers to calculate their carbon offset from their fuel purchases, tips on how to improve fuel economy, help consumers find rideshare opportunities and more. In addition, Propel is looking to bring drivers future fuels such as natural gas and electric vehicle charging.

Biodiesel, E85, Ethanol

ACE Kicks Off RFS Benefits Campaign

Joanna Schroeder

As the ink dries on all the letters of support for the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2), the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) has launched a public letter writing campaign to help raise awareness of how ethanol and the RFS benefits America. Another goal of the campaign is to counter inaccurate stories about ethanol and the industry.

A view that is missing, says Brian Jennings, ACE executive vice president, are the everyday, personal stories that humanize the positive benefits of ethanol.

“This grassroots letter writing campaign can effectively help convey from the ground-up what is at stake if opponents succeed in repealing the RFS,” said Jennings. “We encourage ethanol supporters to take part in ACE’s effort to tell stories of how the RFS benefits their communities and economies. The campaign will succeed only if people get involved and take action.”

Letter writing topics include the RFS, consumer fuel choice through E15, midlevel blends, job creation, food and fuel, and energy security.

The campaign, that targets national media markets as well as local media outlets, will run through the remainder of 2012 and is part of a multi-step grassroots effort ACE is engaged in to help promote ethanol and defend the merits of the RFS. Campaign participants will be entered in drawings to win Amazon gift cards or the grand prize of an Amazon Kindle Fire. You can get more info about the public letter writing campaign by clicking here.

ACE, biofuels, Education, Ethanol

EV Connect Launches EV Dealer Program

Joanna Schroeder

In anticipation of the growing electric vehicle market – nearly 29 different EV models will be launched and hit the lots next year – EV Connect is launching its new Dealer EV program. The goal is to make EV sales easier by helping car dealerships learn to overcome consumer concerns about owning an EV vehicle. The company has also added a dedicated Dealer Liaison Team to boost communication and build stronger relationships between EV Connect and dealerships.

“Unlike traditional vehicle sales, EV sales force car dealerships to learn a new language centered on the electric drive train, batteries, kilowatts, amps, volts, and how they affect the daily life of an EV owner. In addition, the single most frequent sales objection from potential EV buyers is regarding how they will charge their vehicle” said Jordan Ramer, CEO, EV Connect. “Dealer EV is a program through which dealers can refer EV buyers to EV Connect for charge station education, deployment solutions and management services. EV Connect will do the rest of the heavy-lifting.”

EV Connect currently manages thousands of EV charging stations across the country. As part of this program, they work with EV drivers to ensure they get the information and charge station location information they need.

Electric Vehicles

Palm Oil Production Creates High GHG Emissions

Joanna Schroeder

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently reviewing whether to allow biofuels produced from palm oil as an allowable renewable fuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2). The palm oil industry and the Indonesian and Malaysian governments are applying pressure to the EPA to reverse its finding that the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from palm oil production are too high to quality as a biofuel under RFS2.

In a new study published in Nature Climate Change, by researchers from Yale and Stanford, expanding the use of palm oil in the Indonesian part of Borneo would significantly increase emissions. The area was the focus on the study because of its current use of palm oil, that includes conversion into biofuels. The study finds that if the use of palm oil is expanded:

  • Palm oil expansion is projected to release more than 558 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2020, more than all of Canada’s fossil fuel emissions.
  • Palm oil expansion in Borneo alone is projected to contribute 18 percent to 22 percent of Indonesia’s 2020 C02- equivalent emissions.
  • Full lease development would convert an additional 93,844 square kilometers of land in Borneo to oil palm plantations, including 41 percent intact forest. This is in addition to the three fold increase in land converted to palm plantations between 1990-2012, 90% of which was rainforest.

The study also links an increase in deforestation resulting from palm oil production in addition to palm oil production being a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

biofuels, Carbon Dioxide, feedstocks, International, RFS

RFS Waiver Comment Period Comes to a Close

Joanna Schroeder

With the RFS waiver request comment period coming to a close yesterday, the ethanol industry sent another round of comments to the EPA saying a waiver was not needed. But the ethanol industry was not the only sector to respond, the National Corn Growers Association submitted a letter in support of the RFS as is, as did the Governors of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota and Oregon. In addition, a group of 22 CEOs, presidents and other executives from bioenergy and agricultural sectors submitted a letter.

Tom Buis CEO of Growth Energy noted that several governors and big food companies who have been pushing for the waiver have failed to show severe economic harm directly attributable to the RFS.

He noted in the comments submitted by his organization, “A decision to grant the waiver requests would come at a great cost to the United States, both economically and through the sacrifice of larger policy goals. A full waiver of the national Renewable Fuel Standard could lead to closed or idled biorefineries throughout the nation, resulting in as many as 3,000 to 8,300 job losses in ethanol producing areas and $2.9 to $7.8 billion in lost revenues.”

“Consumers would then suffer much higher prices at the gas station, costing U.S. drivers more than $7.5 billion a year or $62.70 per household – far more than any potential impact on food prices,” the comments continued, ” The waiver could also mean losses of between $5.8 and $27.75 billion for U.S. corn farmers, exacerbating what is already a time of economic hardship in rural America.”

Comments submitted by the Renewable Fuels Association added that those requesting were unable to show that waiving the RFS would cure the claimed harm; failed to recognize the impact of RFS compliance flexibilities; and failed to consider the economic benefits of the RFS.

After taking all these failures into account coupled with the fact the RFS has shown to work as intended, RFA CEO and President Bob Dinneen said, “EPA has no option but to deny the waiver requests because they are procedurally incomplete, legally insufficient, and factually flawed.  Perhaps most outrageous is the fact the petitioners make no mention of the RFS program’s inherent flexibilities, and they blatantly ignore the fact that the ethanol industry is responding rationally to current grain market conditions by significantly reducing production.

“Supporters of a waiver overlook the impact of RIN credit banking, borrowing, and trading provisions. The very provision that allows obligated parties to meet up to 20 percent of their current year RFS obligation with RINs generated in the previous compliance year was designed specifically to mitigate the impacts of a drought on agricultural markets. The RFS is unquestionably working as intended. It is a proven success, and it absolutely should not be waived,” concluded Dinneen.

biofuels, Ethanol, Growth Energy, RFA, RFS

Colorado Mountain Express Adopts Propane

Joanna Schroeder

Colorado Mountain Express (CME) has converted a portion of its shuttle vans to propane autogas. This is the first step the company has taken to convert its entire shuttle fleet to run on renewable fuels. CME is operating four 15-passenger ROUSH CleanTech propane autogas powered Ford E-350 vans that serve resorts in Vail, Colorado.

“CME has been through years of testing alternative fuel vehicles and we’re now ready to speak about our satisfaction with the performance of propane autogas,” said Robert Tschupp, vice president and general manager of CME. “Propane autogas has become the alternative fuel of choice for the shared-ride industry. This domestic fuel is not only more economical than gasoline, its clean-burning properties work to preserve the pristine environment in which we live and work — something that is extremely important to our company.”

After about a year of testing the fuel, CME’s average price per gallon for fuel has been $1.72 per gallon compared to the current average cost for gasoline at $3.80 per gallon. Tschupp says each van is saving CME more than $18,600 at the pump.

CME worked with Ferrellgas to identify publicly accessible refueling locations that are convenient for the company, based on the areas they serve. “The fact that propane autogas has such a strong refueling network already in place was appealing to us when we weighed this alternative option against other clean fuels,” added Tschupp.


Corn Growers Comment on RFS

Cindy Zimmerman

Today is the last day to file comments with the Environmental Protection Agency on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) waiver request and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is urging farmers and other stakeholders to make their voices heard.

In comments submitted to EPA today, the NCGA expressed strong support for the RFS and noted that granting a waiver at this point would be premature.

“NCGA and our member associations have long supported the RFS2, including the waiver provision process,” wrote NCGA President Pam Johnson, an Iowa corn grower. In response to a 2008 waiver request, EPA had established that severe harm to the economy attributed to the RFS was one of only two grounds for granting a waiver. “We believe the burden of proof for severe harm to the economy falls on the petitioner,” Johnson said. “Since higher feed prices are only one piece of a complicated economic puzzle we believe the petitioners have failed to establish this proof.”

NCGA also pointed out that, with harvest still underway, a complete count of the 2012 corn crop is unavailable, and that this information is needed for an informed decision by the EPA.

“USDA will continue to refine the crop production estimates throughout the fall,” Johnson noted. “There is potential for this yield forecast to change, up or down, as well as future changes in harvested acreage. Based on these crucial changes we encourage the Agency to wait until USDA has produced the November report before making any decision tied to corn availability.”

Although most livestock groups have lobbied for some waiver relief from the RFS, a large waiver may not be in their best long-term interest, NCGA’s comments state. Most notably, reducing the amount of corn processed for ethanol will cause a reduction in distillers grains. Several recent studies have analyzed potential impacts on the feed markets from reductions in the RFS. While a waiver may modestly lower corn prices, reduced distillers grains availability and increased soybean meal costs will negate a significant portion of the savings from reduced corn prices.

Read NCGA’s comments to EPA.

corn, Ethanol, Ethanol News, NCGA, RFS

New Option to Lower Wind Farm Maintenance Costs

Joanna Schroeder

With concern over the loss of the Production Tax Credit (PTC), many wind farms are looking for ways to improve efficiency. Mass Megawatts Wind Power says it’s new wind augmentation system allows customers to avoid excessive maintenance issues related to mechanical equipment not having several years of an operational history.

The aftermarket accessory, according to the company, utilizes a less complicated and inexpensive wind-focusing technique to increase the wind velocity directed at the turbine by an average of 70 percent. This results in a three-fold increase in the electrical power generated by the turbine.

The augmentation system eliminates the need for turbine structures to exceed a height of 80 feet to realize adequate wind velocity, says Mass Megawatts Wind Power. This reduces material and installation costs while expediting zoning approval in many locations. Additionally, the augmenter technology makes it possible for turbines to operate profitably in lower wind-speed locations.

The company also says that using horizontal or propeller type turbine blades, the cost per rated kilowatt is projected to be less than $1,000 and anticipated to approach $600 in mass production. This compares very favorably with traditional wind power systems that realize a cost of $1,500 to $2,000 per rated kilowatt.

Electricity, Energy, Wind

H-POWER EfW Facility Expansion Completed

Joanna Schroeder

The expansion of the H-Power Energy-from-Waste (EfW) facility in Honolulu is complete. The facility is owned by the city of Honolulu and was designed, built and is operated by Covanta Energy. A third boiler was added increasing the facility’s capacity by 900 tons of municipal solid waste per day, with daily capacity is now at 3,000 tons.

With the completion of the project, all of the island’s post-recycled municipal solid waste is processed. In addition, the EfW plant can produce nearly 90 megawatts of renewable energy each year, which is about eight percent of the island’s total energy needs.

“Covanta is proud of our successful partnership with the City and County of Honolulu. The completed third boiler marks three years of hard work by the Covanta team, and celebrates the innovative thinking of the City and County in making the decision to move forward with this expansion.  The completed project brings a multitude of benefits including increased diversion of waste from landfills, reduction of greenhouse gases, more renewable energy and new jobs that will make a significant impact on Oahu’s economy and energy independence,” said Seth Myones, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Covanta.

The facility is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost one million tons each year due to the avoidance of methane from landfills, the offset of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel electrical production and the recovery of metals for recycling.

“By reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and creating energy from trash, H-POWER benefits the City environmentally and financially,” added Mayor Peter Carlisle. “With the third boiler, we can now divert even more opala from the landfill and continue to emphasize more recycling.”

Electricity, Energy, Waste-to-Energy

CEA Releaess New Energy Future Report

Joanna Schroeder

A “New Energy Future Report” has been released by the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) that focuses on how the U.S. can achieve energy self-sufficiency by 2020. The report reviews the availability of U.S conventional and renewable resources and the polices that will need to be enacted to develop these resources. The report lays out a plan that incorporates elements of both Gov. Romney and President Obama’s state energy policies. It also offers several recommendations to help implement the plans.

“Consumer Energy Alliance believes this report will improve the overall understanding of energy security and the thoughtful development and utilization of our abundant energy resources,” said CEA President David Holt. “Energy policy greatly affects our country, and we believe it is essential that it remains at the forefront of issues under discussion by our elected officials. Our country needs sound energy policy to help maintain stable energy prices for consumers and facilitate economic growth.”

A few highlights of the report include:

  • Expanded energy production in the United States and Canada can create of over 1.4 million jobs and generate nearly $803 billion in government revenues by 2030.
  • In order to significantly and effectively lower U.S. imports of overseas crude, the United States must focus on both decreasing the demand for transportation fuels and increasing North American supply of fuel.
  • CEA believes that North America can achieve “energy self-sufficiency” and close the gap between North American supply and demand where we can meet anywhere between 80 to 95 percent of our energy needs by 2020. This is the next “big thing.”

Holt added, “America is entering the New Energy Future, one that could potentially lead to North American energy self-sufficiency by 2020. Substantial investment in the development of oil and natural gas has buoyed the economy, helping to support millions of jobs, generate billions of dollars in government revenue, and, most significantly, supply millions of consumers with affordable energy.”

Electricity, Energy, Research