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.

Propane

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

ACE Urges EPA to Deny RFS Waiver Requests

Joanna Schroeder

As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) comment period comes to a close prior to their decision on whether or not to grant a waiver for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the American Coalition for Ethanol submitted comments to make the case to keep the RFS in place. The comment deadline is October 11, 2012.

ACE Executive Vice President, Brian Jennings, said, “On behalf of ACE, we urge EPA to deny requests to waive the RFS based on a range of compelling factors, including statutory thresholds for triggering a waiver, precedent established in 2008 when the Agency denied a request by the state of Texas, data which proves waiving the RFS won’t remedy the harm of the drought, existing market conditions, and built-in flexibility which ensures RFS compliance without straining the corn or ethanol marketplace.”

Jennings wrote in the comments, “The economic data and built-in flexibility prove that waiving the RFS would not remedy the harm caused by the drought and would not significantly reduce corn prices or ethanol demand. Waiving the RFS would simply discourage farmers around the world from planting corn, which runs contrary to what the meat and livestock groups supporting the waiver want.”

ACE has been engaging in a grassroots campaign encouraging ethanol supporters to submit comments to the EPA. To date, more than 86 comments from 13 different states have been submitted through ACE’s digital RFS Action Center.

On a wholesale level, Jennings says ethanol is 70 cents cheaper than gasoline, and has been as much as one dollar per gallon less expensive this year. “ACE is confident that after reviewing the facts, EPA will reject the requests to waive the RFS because they fail to meet the criteria set forth by the law.”

ACE, biofuels, Ethanol, RFS

Majority Use Some Cooperative Every Day

Melissa Sandfort

Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, ” What cooperatives play a role in your life/business?”

Our poll results: Ten percent said Electric/water/utilities; ten percent said Farm Credit/credit union; five percent said Farm supplies; twenty percent said Energy/biofuels; three percent said Farm commodity; three percent said Other; thirty-five percent said Two or more of the above; and fifteen percent said None.

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “What is most important for feeding growing world population?” As of today, it is estimated at a little over 7 billion; by 2050 it is estimated it will be slightly over 9 billion. With a steadily increasing population, how do we feed everyone? What do you think?

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

ZimmPoll

Bloomberg U.S. Awarded WindMade Label

Joanna Schroeder

The first news organization in the world, Bloomberg, has been awarded the WindMade certification label for its U.S. operations. WindMade is a global consumer label that identifies companies that use wind energy and other renewables that are certified by UN Global Compact and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). To be considered, a company must obtain at least 25 percent of its electricity from wind power. Bloomberg obtains 58 percent of its electricity from wind power and 25 percent from biomass energy.

“Not only does the label demonstrate our commitment to renewable energy, it provides consumers with the choice to favor companies and products using wind power,” said Curtis Ravenel, Bloomberg’s Global Head of Sustainability. “As both a Founding Partner and the Official Data Provider for WindMade, receiving the WindMade Certification for our operations was the logical next step for us to show our commitment to this very important standard.”

Henrik Kuffner, CEO of WindMade, added, “We are delighted for Bloomberg. By committing to renewable energy and using the WindMade label, Bloomberg has set a great example that will inspire companies and consumers all over the world.”

biomass, Electricity, Energy, Wind

Paseo Biofuels Begins Expansion

Joanna Schroeder

Paseo Biofuels is making plans to expand their biodiesel facility located in Kansas City, Missouri by 40 percent. The plant uses soybean oil as its primary feedstock and currently produces 40 million gallons of biodiesel and 30 million pounds of glycerin each year. The expansion is expected to be completed by March 2013.

“Our partnership with Paseo has gone very well over last four years. Together, we have built an excellent operation that serves many of the major petroleum retailers in the U.S.,” said Cargill Grain and Oilseed Supply Chain North America Business Unit Leader, Mark Stonacek.

The plant went into operations in 2008, and more than 650 agricultural producers have shares in the facility. Paseo Biofuels also has a joint venture with Cargill.

Dale R. Ludwig, the executive director and CEO of Missouri Soybean Associated said the business model is ideal. Having a biodiesel plant co-located with a soybean crushing facility reduces costs and saves time and money.

“I am pleased to see Missouri businesses and our agricultural producers coming together to make a significant capital investment to create new opportunities in the Show-Me State,” said Governor Nixon about the expansion announcement. “This is a partnership that is growing by expanding markets for our farmers and farm families and making renewable, North American energy more accessible. We are glad to have them grow in Missouri.”

advance biofuels, Biodiesel, Soybeans