E15 Could Save Iowa Drivers $69M

Joanna Schroeder

sig_091712_e15_carouselBased on gasoline sales data released today by the Iowa Department of Revenue, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) said that Iowa motorists could have saved $69 million in 2012 if E15 would have been widely available in Iowa. E15, a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, is approved for use for vehicles manufactured after 2001 or newer.

“$69 million buys a lot of Christmas presents,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “With E15, Iowans can spend less while boosting the Iowa economy. That’s a pretty good deal. IRFA is working with retailers across the state to make E15 access a reality. Until E15 is widely available, Iowans will continue paying more at the pump than they should.”

The potential savings with E15 were calculated using 1,630 million gallons of Iowa gasoline use (extrapolated from Iowa Department of Revenue figures). Roughly 85 percent of the fuel sold goes into vehicles that can legally use E15. Where E15 has been sold, it has averaged 5 cents per gallon lower than E10.

E15, Ethanol, Iowa RFA

Ag Secretary Reacts to EPA Administrator Resignation

Cindy Zimmerman

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has had a good working relationship with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on various issues important to farmers, ranchers and renewable energy and he is sorry to hear about her resignation from the Obama cabinet.

jackson-vilsack-reg“Lisa Jackson has served our country well as she balanced improving the environment and the health of the American people – while ensuring our country’s economic competitiveness – because they are intrinsically linked,” said Vilsack in a statement today. “Throughout her tenure, she listened to stakeholders, including farmers and ranchers, and took their concerns into account while considering policies that impacted rural America. She was a friend to me and to those who live and work in rural America and her leadership will be missed.”

Vilsack and Jackson met with representatives of the ethanol industry and toured Renewable Energy Group (REG) biodiesel plant in Newton, Iowa last year. Jackson was instrumental in deciding in favor of a waiver allowing the use of 15% ethanol and against a waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard requested this year.

advance biofuels, Biodiesel, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Government

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson Steps Down

Joanna Schroeder

After nearly four years as the Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Lisa Jackson has announced in a statement that she would be stepping down as President Obama begins his second term. While reports say she gave no specific reason for leaving her position, she said in a statement, “I will leave the EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction, and ready in my own life for new challenges, time with my family and new opportunities to make a difference.”

Lisa-Jackson EPAUnder Jackson’s tutelage, the EPA approved the use of E15 in vehicles and light duty trucks manufactured after 2001. She also announced in 2009, during COP15, that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas pollutant, and as such, could be monitored. At the time, both of these decisions caused heated debate that still continues.

In a separate statement, Obama said Jackson has been “an important part of my team.” He thanked her for serving and praised her “unwavering commitment” to the public’s health.

In reaction to her departure, Tom Buis CEO of Growth Energy said, “Administrator Jackson has been a dedicated advocate for the renewable fuels industry and her work to reduce our nation’s addiction to foreign oil, while providing cleaner air and a better environment, should be commended.  As Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, she should be applauded for all she has done to advance biofuels and a cleaner, better environment. Growth Energy wishes her well and thanks her for her tireless work during her time at the EPA.”

Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), added, “Administrator Jackson put into action the Obama Administration’s commitment to ethanol and other biofuels. During her tenure, she cleared the way for E15 giving consumers more choice and savings at the gas pump and she protected the progress that has been made in reducing our dependence of foreign oil by recognizing the importance and inherent flexibility of the RFS. The ethanol industry thanks her for her service and looks forward to working with her successor to continue the growth of America’s domestic renewable fuels industry.”

While Jackson has not announced her next move, there is speculation that she may run for Governor of New Jersey. There has been no announcement of who will take her place.

Carbon Dioxide, Clean Energy, Environment, Growth Energy, RFA

Thorntons Wins Paul Dana Excellence in Bioenergy

Joanna Schroeder

The Indiana State Department of Agriculture honored Thorntons Inc. as the recipient of the Paul Dana Excellence in Bioenergy Leadership Award. The honor was given during the Greater Indiana Clean Cities Coalition Holiday Reception by Indiana’s Ag Director Joseph Kelsay.

THORNTONS Gas Station with ethanolThe Paul Dana Award was established by Governor Mitch Daniels and Lt. Governor Becky Skillman in 2006 after Indy Racing League driver Paul Dana was killed in racing accident. A strong supporter of biofuels, the award recognizes those who have shown exemplified leadership and innovative vision in the bioenergy industry.

“I congratulate the Thornton family for its entrepreneurial spirit, growing the fueling business from a single station in New Albany, Ind. in 1952 to be among Forbes Magazine’s 500 largest privately held companies today,” said Lt. Governor Skillman, who serves as Secretary of Agriculture. “We thank you for your support of Indiana and including mid-level ethanol blends and E85 at your stations.”

Thorntons began retailing gasoline in 1952 with a single location in New Albany, Indiana, but the first “Thorntons” opened in Clarksville, Indiana in 1971.

The 2012 Greater Indiana Clean Cities Award Recipients:

  • Ethanol Blends Award – Thorntons Inc.
  • Propane/Autogas Award – Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT)
  • Compressed Natural Gas Award – Palmer Trucks
  • Support of Multiple Alternative Fuels and Technologies (Silver BB’s Award) – Ivy Tech Lafayette Automotive Department, Alternative Fuels Technical Training
  • BioDiesel Blends – North Central Co-op
Alternative energy, Biodiesel, biofuels, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), Ethanol, Propane

Amyris Begins Biofene Production in Brazil

Joanna Schroeder

Amyris-logo (1)Amyris has announced that it has completed a $42.25 million private placement of its common stock. The company has also begun production of its industrial fermentation facility in Brazil and is producing Biofene, its brand of renewable farnesene, a fragrant oil chemical. When adding a hydrogen molecule to farnesene, you get farnesane, which is the foundation molecule for renewable diesel.

“We are encouraged by the continued, strong commitment from our major investors, particularly as we start up our new industrial fermentation facility for the production of our renewable hydrocarbons in Brazil,” said John Melo, Amyris President & CEO. “Our own farnesene plant at Paraiso has been successfully commissioned, with initial farnesene production underway. We anticipate sales from this facility during the first quarter of 2013.”

The Company sold 14,177,849 shares of common stock in a private placement to existing Amyris investors. The transaction included $37.25 million in cash proceeds and the conversion by Total Gas & Power USA, SAS of $5 million from an outstanding senior unsecured convertible promissory note.

biochemicals, Brazil, Company Announcement

Most Choose Artificial Trees

Melissa Sandfort

Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, ”What kind of Christmas tree do you have?”

Our poll results: Fifty-one percent said artificial tree; thirty-three percent said real tree; eleven percent said none and four percent said other. It looks as though the majority of you have allergies to real trees like my family!

12.26chart

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “How would you rate 2012? 1 = Poor, 5 = Excellent” There were a lot of big news items this year: the Olympics; Presidential election; Hurricane Sandy; the death of Whitney Houston; the new iPad and iPhone. But how did the headlines affect your year? Did it make it a stellar year or just a ho-hum kind of year? Let us know, and Happy New Year!

ZimmPoll is sponsored by Rhea+Kaiser, a full-service advertising/public relations agency.

ZimmPoll

Biofuels – Bringing Sexy Back?

Joanna Schroeder

I was recently forwarded an opinion piece on how to promote biofuels and it struck a cord with me. In June 2011, I published an article in Industrial Biotechnology called “Back to basics: Redefining the biotechnology message.” In it, I said the current messages weren’t working – especially when tied to climate change where public opinion is slipping.

The opinion piece, “How to properly promote biofuels,” was authored by Alkol Bioenergy and focused on a new TV advertising campaign running in Brazil. The campaign was developed for UNICA (Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association) and featured images of ethanol being cool and sexy. The op-ed piece points out that this is very different from what is being done in Europe and the USA.

“Truth is that facts such as job creation, national security, global warming, etc., have never proved their value, as they all depend on a previous knowledge about socioeconomic issues people are unaware of or simply do not care, ignoring instead the real motivations for people using something new,” is written in the piece.

While I agree to some level, I do still feel that job creation and economic security are two reasons that work for some, more specifically those who are well-informed about the issues such as our readers. Where I think the messages still struggle is with the average person, who doesn’t really, truly understand why biofuels, or renewable energy or sustainability in particular, is important.

Let me give you an example of what is happening in China. Several years ago there were articles citing the sale of fake solar panels. But the solar panels were not sold and installed only to discover they never worked; they were never intended to work. They were designed to increase a buyer ‘s social standing in the community who couldn’t afford real solar panels.  In China, those who had solar panels on their homes are better respected and maintain a higher social status than those who don’t.

So why aren’t Americans or Europeans, or others in any other country given more respect when they adopt renewable energy or sustainability initiatives? Because in many cases, these early adopters were/are seen as snobs, I am better than you, rather than as leaders of a movement. And this, I think is key. We need to make renewable energy cool and we need to make renewable energy for everyone. And this lies the point of the editorial, where I wholeheartedly agree, biofuels need to be seen as cool, as the UNICA ad portrays.  As Gareth Kane wrote in “Green Jujitsu,” we need to make renewable energy and environmental consciousness sexy.

Alternative energy, biofuels, Environment, Opinion, Renewable Energy, Solar

Book Review – Green Jujitsu

Joanna Schroeder

Can you define sustainability? More than likely, but it is also likely that your definition is different than a colleagues, family member or friend. The green movement touts sustainability but how do you actually integrate the idea of sustainability into your business? To answer this question, I turned to the DoShort, “Green Jujitsu,” written by Gareth Kane.

Green JujitsuThe book focuses on how to help businesses become more sustainable and how to make it stick. The answer? Harness the strengths of your employees rather than focusing on their weaknesses. Kane aptly uses the analogy of the martial art of jujitsu. This concept is focused on using your opponents strength, energy and momentum against them and levering into submission. While Kane doesn’t promote bringing your employees to submission, he does promote the idea of bringing people on board with sustainability initiatives by understanding their strengths and weaknesses.

I often struggle with the way the renewable energy industry promotes itself and have come to believe that the industry is not using the right language and stories to gain public and policy support. In some regard, I feel I’ve found an ally in Kane and his message.

He notes that oftentimes, “The green movement has a well-earned reputation for presenting sustainability as the hair-shirt option….We are bombarded with litanies of how we should be ashamed of ourselves as a species….Hand up who wants a guilt trip? The answer is to make it fun; ditch the hair-shirt and make sustainability sexy.”

In other words, make sustainability attractive, positive and compelling.

While this book hits the mark on guiding a business through the process of engaging employees into sustainability practices that will also help to save money, it is also a good lesson in messaging for the industry.  This book should be read by both sustainability leaders and champions, but also by those who are helping the industry to craft its sustainability messages.  Green Jujitsu is a “art” the industry could, and should get behind.

book reviews, Climate Change, energy efficiency, Environment

REG Newton Extends Loan Agreement

Joanna Schroeder

REG LogoRenewable Energy Group (REG) has announced that its REG Newton, LLC loan with AgStar Financial Service, PCA was extended for one additional year. The biodiesel facility entered into this debt agreement with AgStar in conjunction with the related March 2010 acquisition of the assets of Central Iowa Energy, LLC.

“We’re pleased that the lender syndicate saw fit to extend this note in a routine manner,” said REG Chief Financial Officer, Chad Stone.

The new maturity date is March 2014, and all material terms remain the same for the 30 million gallon per year biorefinery.

advance biofuels, Biodiesel, Company Announcement, REG