New Poll on Role of Cooperatives

Melissa Sandfort

Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What grade would you give the new student lunch program? Tell us why with a comment.”

Our poll results: seventeen percent said A; six percent said B; nine percent said C; nineteen percent said D; and forty-nine percent said F. Looks like there are a lot of frustrated parents (and kids) on this issue.

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “What cooperatives play a role in your life/business?” October is National Cooperative Month and the rural economy benefits from local cooperatives in a number of ways, including those that have helped start community ethanol and biodiesel plants. Which ones impact your life? Let us know.

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


Vilsack Defends Ethanol at Dairy Expo

Cindy Zimmerman

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack held a town hall meeting at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin this week and took questions from the audience, one of which concerned ethanol and the impact it has had on livestock producers.

The questioner, who was from California, said ethanol was “not a very popular word” with dairy farmers in her state. “Where I come from ethanol is not a four letter word,” Vilsack responded, noting that ethanol has not only helped increase profitability and production for farmers but also helped the economy, national security, and the environment. “Those are the benefits – jobs, higher incomes, lower gas costs, environmental benefits and reduction of our reliance on foreign oil,” said Vilsack.

The secretary also carefully explained that because ethanol returns livestock feed to the market in the form of distillers grains (DDGS). “We hear a lot of people say that 40% of the corn crop is being used for fuel production but it’s not really 40% because a third of it comes back in DDGS which is used by the livestock industry,” he said. “So, it’s less than 40%, more like 27 percent.”

In addition, Vilsack talked about how USDA is helping the industry move into the production of advanced ethanol using feedstocks beyond corn. “We have financed at USDA nine separate biorefineries that use corn stover, algae, switchgrass, woody biomass, agricultural waste, municipal waste,” he said.

Vilsack also defended the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the current request before EPA to waive that standard, noting that Congress passing a new food, farm and jobs bill would do more to help livestock producers impacted by high feed costs due to the drought than waiving the RFS would.

Listen to or download Vilsack’s comments here: Ag Secretary Vilsack on ethanol at Dairy Expo

advance biofuels, Audio, corn, dairy, Distillers Grains, Ethanol, Ethanol News, feedstocks, livestock, livestock feed, USDA

Blink Charges Surpasses 1 Million EV Charges

Joanna Schroeder

ECOtality has hit a first for the country: it has surpassed one million electric vehicle (EV) residential charge events on its Blink Charges. The company says it is the first in the industry to reach this milestone. At the end of June 2012, the company had 800,000 charge events.

This is not the only milestone the company recently achieved. It has also recorded 40 million miles of driver data records and analyzed that 1.70 million gallons of gas has been saved. Data collected through the EV Project, of which ECOtality is the project manager, is presented on a quarterly basis.

“Through the data recorded on Blink chargers for The EV Project, we have clearly demonstrated the viability of this marketplace and continued growth of EV’s across the nation,” said Ravi Brar, CEO of ECOtality, Inc. “Recording more than 1 million charge events is not only an iconic milestone for ECOtality, The EV Project and the industry, but is also proof that EVs are here to stay.”

Electric Vehicles

Deadline Nears for RFS Waiver Comments

Cindy Zimmerman

The deadline for providing comments to the Environmental Protection Agency on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) waiver request is coming up on October 11 and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is urging stakeholders in the industry to make their voices heard.

“If the RFS is put on hold, so is the American economy. So is our country’s steady march toward renewable fuels,” said RFA Executive Vice President Christina Martin in a notice sent to supporters today. “So are billions in investments and hundreds of thousands of jobs in America’s rural communities.”

Martin urges supporters of the RFS to find out how to make comments on the issue by going to the website “We’ve provided talking points and a sample letter to make it easy to make your voice heard, but your comment will have the biggest impact if you use specific examples from your state and local community to show how important the RFS is to you,” Martin says. “By speaking out, you will be helping protect a program that has played a pivotal role in reducing oil imports to the lowest levels since 1996, lowering gas prices, improving air quality, and strengthening the economic health of rural America.”

Find out more at

Ethanol, Ethanol News, Government, RFA

Renewable Energy in the Debate

Cindy Zimmerman

Increasing America’s energy independence came up quickly in the presidential debate last night and it showed some similarities and some clear differences between the candidates.

“I think it’s important for us to develop new sources of energy here in America,” President Obama said in his opening remarks. Governor Romney followed up by putting energy first in his five part plan to help the economy. “One, get us energy independent, North American energy independent. That creates about 4 million jobs,” he said.

President Obama noted that he and Romney agree on the need to boost American energy production and that domestic oil and natural gas production have increased in recent years. “But I also believe that we’ve got to look at the energy sources of the future, like wind and solar and biofuels, and make those investments,” the president said. Romney stressed the need for more oil and natural gas development on government land and support for clean coal. “I like coal,” said Romney.

When the issue of corporate taxes came up, Obama charged that the oil industry gets too many tax breaks. “The oil industry gets $4 billion a year in corporate welfare,” said Obama. “Now, does anybody think that ExxonMobil needs some extra money, when they’re making money every time you go to the pump?”

Romney countered that Obama has given “green energy” projects more tax breaks that oil. “Now, I like green energy as well,” said Romney. “You put $90 billion, like 50 years’ worth of breaks, into solar and wind, to Solyndra and Fisker and Tesla and Ener1. I had a friend who said you don’t just pick the winners and losers, you pick the losers, all right? So this is not the kind of policy you want to have if you want to get America energy secure.”

Those comments scored no points for Romney with the Truman National Security Project. “Mitt Romney’s energy plan ignores the advice of our military leaders and doubles down on oil – even as we send a billion dollars a day overseas for it,” said Truman Project spokesman David Solimini. “Thankfully, today we import less oil than we have in 20 years and we’re investing in manufacturing jobs on things like wind turbines.”

biofuels, Ethanol, Government, politics, Solar, Wind

Library Adds Solar for Cleaner Environment

Joanna Schroeder

The Port Washington Public Library has added thin film solar cells to its roof’s cap sheet layer to generate solar energy. The only building in Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York state to generate power this way, the system has the ability to generate an average of 42,000 kWh of electricity per year and but CO2 emissions by more than 2.2 million pounds each year. During a celebration ceremony, Nancy Curtin, Port Washington’s Public Library Director; Garry Schwall, Chief Operating Officer of Winthrop-University Hospital; and Paul Polizzotto, President and Founder of CBS EcoMedia gave remarks while entertainment was provided by local singer/guitarist Tom Cavanagh, known to library audiences for his Johnny Cash and George Harrison performances.

The new Energy Education Station in the Library displays the actual energy savings from the system for the public to view. In addition, the green initiatives implemented by the Port Washington Public Library also includes a Recycling Center in the Children’s Room.

“The Library is committed to green initiatives and as a center for lifelong learning wishes to lead by example promoting solar energy and a healthy environment for the Port Washington community,” said Nancy Curtin, Port Washington Public Library Director. “This technology is a sustainable solution and we thank Winthrop University Hospital and CBS EcoMedia for their support.”

As the country struggles with economic difficulties, education has been hard hit with the reduction of teachers in schools and staff at libraries. “With this project, the Library sets an important example: by adopting solar power in our homes and businesses, each one of us can cut our own energy costs and emissions,” said Paul Polizzotto, President and Founder of CBS EcoMedia Inc. “Thanks to the generous support of Winthrop-University Hospital, the Library will reduce its carbon footprint and cut its electricity bills, freeing up crucial funds for books, staffing, special programming, and equipment.”

Education, Electricity, Energy, Environment, Solar

CARS Will Feature Ethanol This Year

Cindy Zimmerman

The Congress of Automotive Repair and Service, with the clever acronym of CARS, coming up next week in New Orleans is boasting more mechanical attendees, vendors and attractions than in recent years – including a special spotlight for ethanol.

CARS is an event held during Automotive Service & Repair Week (ASRW) dedicated specifically to mechanical service and repair professionals and among the featured exhibitors in the CARS section of the International Autobody Congress & Exposition (NACE) this year is the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

Radio talk show host Bobby Likis will broadcast his nationally syndicated Car Clinic show live from the show floor Saturday, Oct. 13, in addition to numerous interviews that will be conducted live from his booth during the Expo. “CARS is ‘the’ all-call for the automotive service industry, so we’re packing up the Car Clinic show trailer to shine a bright spotlight on the event,” says Likis. “And, we’re bringing with us the Renewable Fuels Association – the trade association for the U.S. ethanol industry – and Ricardo Engineering’s Extreme Boost Direct Injection (EBDI) engine, optimized for the high-octane properties of ethanol. Technology will rock and roll!”

RFA announced a partnership with Likis
earlier this year, which RFA Director of Market Development Robert White says has been very beneficial for the ethanol industry. “The group that we need to educate the most is service mechanics, the auto technicians, because that’s who people trust,” said White. “The radio program with Bobby Likis aired across the country helps put a trusted name behind the efforts of the ethanol industry.”

White says RFA will have general session time and a large display in the CARS trade show for automotive technicians and service professionals on hand “to walk them through what ethanol actually does to an engine.”

The 2012 ASRW/NACE/CARS Expo will take place October 11-13 at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

Audio, automotive, Car Makers, Ethanol, Ethanol News

Iowa Bioenergy Tour Huge Success

Joanna Schroeder

The 4th Annual Biofuels: Science and Sustainability Tour took place recently hosted by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). The three-day tour brought several Washington, D.C. policymakers and regulators to Iowa for a inside and hands on look at the renewable fuels and agricultural industry in the state.  Participants had the opportunity to talk with many renewable fuels experts, agriculture leaders and state and university officials on important policy matters, regulatory concerns and technical issues facing the renewable fuels industry.

Several key areas of discussion were the current and future impacts of the drought, Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2), E15, tax policy, biodiesel and advanced biofuels, the 2012 Farm Bill, food and fuel, distillers grains, seed research, crop yield trends, improved environmental practices in agriculture and renewable fuels production, biomass crops, the future of cellulosic ethanol, and the impediments to consumer fuel choice posed by the federal petroleum mandate.

The Tour included visits to:

  • Renewable Energy Group headquarters in Ames, IA
  • Iowa State University’s Sorenson Farm & Biocentury Research Farm in Boone, IA
  • Kevin Jurgens’ family farm in Thornton, IA
  • Soy Energy biodiesel refinery in Mason City, IA
  • Golden Grain Energy ethanol refinery in Mason City, IA
  • Sukup Manufacturing in Sheffield, IA
  • Pioneer DuPont Beaver Creek Research Center in Johnston, IA
  • Pioneer DuPont Carver Center in Johnston, IA
  • Magellan Refined Products Terminal in Des Moines, IA

The Tour was hosted and sponsored by Iowa State University Bioeconomy Institute, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, National Biodiesel Foundation, Renewable Fuels Foundation, Golden Grain Energy, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Renewable Product Marketing Group, Sukup Manufacturing, and Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Click here for more information, presentations and photos from the event.

advance biofuels, Agribusiness, Biodiesel, Ethanol, Iowa RFA

Major Auto Companies Endorse E15

Joanna Schroeder

In response to strong sales of E15 in areas where the ethanol blend is offered, Ford Motor Company and General Motors (GM) announced their recommendations for use of E15 in their new vehicles. GM added the recommendation of E15 for its 2012 and newer vehicles, while Ford recommends E15 for its 2013 and newer vehicles.

In response, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw said, “The IRFA wants to extend our most sincere thank you to GM and Ford for recommending the use of E15 in new vehicles. I believe Iowa consumers will take notice of GM and Ford’s leadership. This is an important step forward for E15. Thirty years ago, auto recognition of E10 began much the same way. First one company, then others followed. First for new cars, then for the legacy fleet. The pressure is now on other auto manufacturers to follow suit or explain why they offer substandard equipment.”

Retailers, who must first register with the EPA before legally selling E15, began to offer the higher ethanol blend quickly upon final approval for E15 for all 2001 and newer vehicles by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The first retailer in the country to sell E15 was in Kansas and retailers in Iowa quickly followed suit. Last month, Linn Co-op Oil Company in Marion, Iowa became the first retailer in the state to offer E15. Several other Iowa retailers are in various stages of moving to offer E15.

biofuels, blends, Car Makers, Ethanol, Iowa RFA

Solar in Spain Increases

Joanna Schroeder

Two large scale power plants are being connected to the grid south of the Iberian Peninsula in Spain. Coenergy was selected for the installation. The first power plant will have a total capacity of 1.8 KWp and is located in Jerez de la Frontera on an industrial rooftop spanning 24,000 square meters. The second solar power plant will have a total capacity of 320 KWp and has been installed in a 8,000 square meter area in the village of Segura de la Sierra in Jaén Province.

Combined, the two solar power plants use more than 9,000 Coenergy PowerPlus modules and the plants have the ability to produce nearly 3,000 megawatt hours of solar power each year. The solar energy will feed into the Andalusian electrical grid through nine Conergy IPG C central inverters and the sites will be monitored with Coenergy VisionBoxes.

“Sun-blessed Andalusia is a very attractive location for solar power plants and well on its way to achieving grid parity,” said Luis Jimenez Gutierrez, Managing Director of Conergy Spain. “These two projects are another step down this path where product quality, know-how and services become more and more important. Conergy stands for quality and many years’ experience – with large-scale free-field plants as well as industrial and private rooftop plants. This expertise makes us a reliable partner for all solar projects, on whom our customers can count.”

Electricity, Energy, International, Solar