BYO Ethanol Helps Retailers With Blender Pump Applications

BYOThere is funding available for gas retailers to install ethanol blender pumps, the trick is navigating the application process to get it.

That’s where Blend Your Own (BYO) Ethanol can help. The joint effort by the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is playing a key role in helping expedite the USDA REAP (Rural Energy for American Program) application process to install more ethanol blender pumps across the country.

RFA Director of Market Development, Robert White says BYO Ethanol has worked hand in hand with the USDA on the application process for 61 new blender pumps to be installed. “BYO has helped guide a number of retailers through the lengthy application process. We worked with states from Hawaii to Pennsylvania and helped walked retailers through the business advantages of blender pumps and the application process. We feel our efforts in helping answer questions and concerns from retailers will go a long way towards helping the USDA achieve the blender pump goals in participating states,” White said.

ACE Vice President of Market Development, Ron Lamberty, says retailers were pleased with the assistance they received from the BYO team. “We helped them navigate the application process, which is a process not familiar to most petroleum retailers. We basically had six weeks to help them walk them through things like establishing budgets and define narratives, locate fuel supply and composing a technical report. By helping with this, the BYO campaign is helping the country reach its renewable fuel goals and break oil’s stranglehold on the market,” Lamberty said.

The USDA announced the REAP fund program for blender pumps this spring. The program’s goal is get 10,000 blender pumps installed across the country in the next five years. The program is a part of the REAP program, which is an effort designed to help spur rural development.

Retailers can find out more about the program at

Book Review – The H Factor

Reading books about the renewable energy industry shouldn’t be all about education. That’s why this week I took a “mini” vacation and read the novel “The H Factor,” by L.E. Indianer. This fast pace story closely follows the triumph of two college students attending Georgia Tech University who using hydrogen, create the energy silver bullet. But basking in their invention doesn’t last long – the creators’ lives are threatened by global interests who don’t want hydrogen to succeed.

The students created a patented, cylindrical contraption that cost effectively and efficiently converts water to hydrogen with no emissions. Rather than paying the $1 million plus for a real hydrogen car (the hydrogen fuel cell cars are less), the students’ discovery can be put on any car or truck for less than $10k. For all things oil, this game changer must be quashed at all costs.

Hydrogen is one of the most common and combustible elements known to man and many believe that someday technology will be able to manipulate it in a means that is could save the world. Great premise for a senior thesis deducted the two main characters, students Marc and Gerri who had this discussion to kick off their project.

“Anything that requires oil-based fuel today needs to be replaced by some other energy source, or a combination of sources. There’s no question about it, and H could be the starting point for us,” said Marc.

“Can you imagine not being dependent on foreign oil…oil that produces the billions of dollars that militant Islam is trying to use to destroy our country?” asked Gerri.

Sound familiar? This is the battle cry of the renewable energy industry.

Well needless to say, evil oil wants the world to be dependent on its products and the lengths the oil companies and foreign regime make for some high drama that hits very close to home. While this was a fun, fictional read, lets hope that Indianer is not a clairvoyant, at least in the sense that a silver bullet would be welcome, but not the war that comes with it.

Friends of the Earth Launches ‘No Sense’ Campaign

Our ethanol FOE, Friends of the Earth, is back in action with a new TV campaign, “No Sense,” designed to encourage policymakers in DC to dump ethanol subsidies. The campaign was launched just in time for the first Republican presidential debate set to take place in New Hampshire next Monday at St. Anselm College. The campaign is a joint effort between Friends of the Earth and Taxpayers for Common Sense, another organization that has been vocal for months regarding the end of subsidies.

“Corn ethanol is not living up to its promise,” said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth. “Ethanol production requires tons of petrochemicals and diverts land that could be better used for growing traditional food. This country’s ethanol tax credits have increased food prices around the world and made climate pollution even worse.”

Friends of the Earth note that presidential hopefuls Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum have already come out of the gates with plans to phase out subsidies. In fact, Pawlenty was bold enough to announce this during his first official campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa. On the flip side, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich favor keeping them in place while Ron Paul and Herman Cain want them ended immediately. The ethanol industry has also agreed that the subsides, such as VEETC should be phased out, but to eliminate them immediately would cause undo harm to the ethanol industry.

Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense added, “Ethanol subsidies are a ridiculous waste of taxpayer dollars and do little more than line the pockets of big oil companies. Republican candidates have to decide whether they put America’s taxpayers before their personal political gain.”

If early actions are any indication, then ethanol subsidies should be a hot topic in upcoming election (you can agree or disagree in this week’s poll).

So for all of you DF readers who don’t favor ethanol, here is your chance to voice your opinion – Friends of the Earth has a site for you to send letters to your local newspapers expressing your opinions.

Ecotech Institute Holds Open House for Solar Day

It’s global renewable energy week. Today is Global Wind Day and Saturday is world SolarDay, at least for those in North America. To celebrate, the Ecotech Institute, the first and only college whose sole focus in preparing Americans to work in green jobs, is hosting an open house on June 18. Since the school installed a solar energy system in January 2011, the system has generated more than 10,000 kilowatt hours of electricity.

One field of study at the EcoTech Institute is its Solar Energy Technology Program designed to educate students about all things solar energy technology. The program has updated facilities, modern labs and small class sizes – all things the school considers ideal for learning. Since opening, more than 300 students have attended the Aurora, Colorado, based school.

The solar curriculum prepares students for various jobs after graduation including construction, installation and repair of solar energy systems as well as working with architect or engineers as they design and install solar projects. For more information about the open house or to learn more about Ecotech Institute programs, click here.

Biofuels Benchmarking Annual Report Released

Christianson & Associates, a CPA and consulting firm for the ethanol, biodiesel and renewable energy industry, today released its 2nd Annual Biofuels Benchmarking Report. The report found several key findings: profitably increased for the industry on average 8 cents; equity to asset ratio increased more than 10 percent; and working capital improvements enabled plants to decrease long-term debt by an average of 20 cents per gallon. The report also found that despite higher corn prices in 2010, margin volatility has decreased.

In an interview with John Christianson, Partner, Christianson & Associates, he said that the past two years have been recovery years for the ethanol industry and plant management has focused on strengthening their balance sheets to prepare for future volatility. Christianson also noted that despite higher commodity prices, margin volatility has improved.

“There have been a lot of unique things happening in the industry and one of them is that we’ve seen a general rise in commodity prices,” said Christianson. “But even though there has been a sharp rise in commodity prices, so has the fuels. Oil price has risen which has brought up ethanol prices as well. So even though commodity prices have risen, we’ve actually had an improved margin ratio and so the margin volatility has been less.”

Other factors that have helped to improve margins include co-products such as distillers grains, corn oil and carbon dioxide.

Listen to my full interview with John Christianson here: Biofuels Benchmarking Report Highlights

This in-depth report analyzes the operational and financial performance of more than 60 ethanol plants in five major “benchmark” areas: overall ethanol industry analysis, regional ethanol plant analysis, production capacity analysis, plant production efficiency analysis, and balance sheet analysis. This year’s financial outlook is much improved and one reason is due to plants improving their risk management while they continue to improve their production efficiencies and energy costs. These two areas will be a focus on Christianson & Associates upcoming 7th Annual Biofuels Financial Conference next week.

As a veteran of the industry I asked John considering the results of the biofuels benchmarking study, what word of advice does he have for the industry to manage risk. “Looking at the operations of an ethanol plant today, one is you have to operate your business within the parameters that you can fundamentally handle the risk, recommended Christianson.

The report is available for free to all benchmarking participants and for a nominal fee for others. You can purchase the report here.

USDA Announces Miscanthus Biomass Projects

Giant miscanthus will soon be grown for biomass energy in Missouri and three other states.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) today announced the establishment of two Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) project areas in Missouri that will produce the dedicated energy crop miscanthus to be used for heat, power, liquid biofuels, and bio-based products.

“We are hopeful that as a result of this announcement we can assist the creation of up to 8250 acres in those two project areas of land that can be used to grow miscanthus,” said Vilsack. Yields for biomass from giant miscanthus are expected to range between 10 and 12 tons of dry matter per acre and can be as high as 15 tons per acre.

biodiesel roy blunt“This energy crop is a crop that will grow on land that is not necessarily the best farmland for anything else,” added Senator Blunt.

Despite the fact that future funding for BCAP is in danger, the $20 million for these projects has already been approved by Congress, and Blunt says this kind of spending benefits the economy. “If you’ve got a program like this where you can take a relatively small amount of money and create a private sector job that helps us solve our energy problem, I’m going to continue to be supportive of those kinds of policies.”

In addition to Missouri, project areas will also be established in Ohio, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. USDA estimates that these project areas and conversion facilities would earn about $50 million per year and create nearly 4,000 jobs by 2014.

Listen to or download the Vilsack-Blunt press conference here: Miscanthus BCAP Projects

More details on the project areas can be found here.

Biodiesel Advertising Campaign Launched

An advertising campaign to spotlight biodiesel as America’s advanced biofuel has been launched by the U.S. biodiesel industry.

The multi-million dollar project will include national television advertising, coupled with regional print and radio advertising as well as an online presence. The centerpiece of the education effort is a 30-second spot that will air across the nation on Sunday-morning network talk shows, beginning this Sunday, June 19th. The ads feature the tagline, “Biodiesel. America’s Advanced Biofuel” and focus on biodiesel’s viability here and now. The television spot highlights biodiesel use in the Dallas area to demonstrate the fuel’s practical, common-sense appeal in communities across the country.

“The public generally doesn’t know that there is an advanced biofuel here now,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board. “This is not some pipedream. Biodiesel today is fueling long-haul trucks from Florida to California, municipal buses in Texas, Ford pickups in Detroit, and Volkswagens in New York City.”

The campaign has a new website – – where the ads are posted. The TV ad can be viewed below.

WindMade Label Proposed on Global Wind Day

A new international label for companies and products using wind energy is being proposed by a new organization.

Wind energy industry leaders gathered in New York today on Global Wind Day to unveil the proposed WindMade™ standard for public comment and to promote it worldwide. This event was co-sponsored by the new WindMade™ organization, headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, and the Wind Energy Foundation, of Washington, D.C.

“I believe that WindMade has the potential to develop into a truly global movement, with consumers around the world demanding transparency on the companies and products they choose,” said WindMade CEO Henrik Kuffner. “WindMade can make a real difference in driving consumer demand for sustainable products, and I am excited to be given the opportunity to spearhead this groundbreaking initiative.”

The proposed standard requires participating companies to source a minimum of 25 per cent of their electricity demand from wind power and it was developed by a committee made up of representatives from founding organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), LEGO, Climate Friendly, Gold Standard, and Vestas Wind Systems. “We believe that the label will build a bridge between consumers and companies committed to clean energy,” said Steve Sawyer, Chairman of the WindMade™ Board and Secretary General of GWEC.

Organizers say that WindMade™ will be “dedicated to increasing corporate investments in wind power by informing consumers about companies’ use of wind energy, and increasing demand for products that embrace this clean and renewable energy source.”

Beef Is Top Choice

We’ve got some beef eaters in this community! In answer to our question, “What’s your favorite meat?” an overwhelming majority said Beef at 39%. Here’s how the other choices fared in order. Fish, 15%; Chicken, 12%; Pork, 10%; All of the above, 10%; Lamb, 5%; Venison, 5% and Other, 4%. I’ve spoken with some AgWired community members who voted that told me they voted for beef but definitely eat other meat choices. We just thought we’d ask the question this way to see if you had a favorite and it sure looks like you do. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Our new ZimmPoll is now live. We’re asking the question, “Will ethanol be an issue in the presidential race?” Let us know what you think. And if you have any questions you want to suggest for future ZimmPolls please let us know.

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

More Ethanol Dialogue Needed

The ethanol industry is anxious to continue talks about the future of the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) and how best to balance the budget while still ensuring the ethanol industry can move forward. Yet while many believe the Senate’s defeat of Sen. Coburn’s ethanol amendment opens the door for dialogue, others believe today’s action does little to move the debate forward.

“Today’s debate did little to move the ball forward in encouraging the development of an advanced and cellulosic biofuels industry,” said Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association. “Our nation needs a comprehensive approach that focuses on the future of all biofuels, including advanced drop-in, algae, and cellulosic fuels to deliver as many gallons to back out foreign oil as quickly as possible. In order to best achieve this goal, Congress must consider policies that are technology, feedstock, and product neutral, and provide long term certainty for the markets. We remain committed to working with Congressional leaders and stakeholder groups to find a common sense approach the benefits all biofuels.”

While all groups remain committed to working with federal policymakers on a compromise, Bart Schott, a grower from Kulm, North Dakota and the current president of the National Corn Growers Association noted that should Coburn’s policy have been passed, the ethanol industry could have seen production reduced by 38 percent. “This would have significantly impacted an industry that provides and supports more than 400,000 U.S. jobs, many in rural America, during a time of economic uncertainty. The loss in ethanol production could have resulted in the shedding of approximately 112,000 of these jobs, in all sectors of the economy,” said Schott.

Schott pointed out that while the ethanol industry remains open to change the oil and gas industry has refused to proactively engage in debates about subsidy reform. He continued by reiterating his organization’s support of the Ethanol Reform and Deficit Reduction Act that was introduced yesterday by Sens. John Thune and Amy Klobuchar.

Jeff Broin, chairman and CEO, of POET, the country’s largest ethanol producer added that the country must transition away for the tax credit and make a short-term investment that will reap long-term rewards. This should be done through the expansion of flex fuel pumps and flex fuel vehicles.

“Over the years as the tax credit has declined, we have been able to improve our efficiency and stay competitive with gasoline. Now it is time for the ethanol industry to take the next step in competing with oil. That can only happen if ethanol is allowed greater access to the fuel market,” concluded Broin.