New Website for Pre-Owned Alternative Fuel Vehicles

Are you searching for a pre-owned alternative fuel vehicle or equipment? Test drive a new website, afvresale.com, developed by The Sales Network (TSN). This site lets consumers who want to “go green” buy or sell previously owned alternative fuel vehicles or equipment.
The website provides free membership for listing, responding and searching any pre-owned alternative fuel vehicle located across the nation, including those powered by propane autogas, ethanol, CNG, electricity and biodiesel, as well as hybrid vehicles.

“The Sales NetWork established afvresale.com because the demand is there,” said Greg Zilberfarb, CEO and president of the Sales NetWork. “We live in a time where people are becoming more environmentally and cost conscious. The more we worked with clients in the alternative fuels industry, the more we were hearing a cry out for a place where alternative fuel vehicles could be bought and sold online, similar to an online classifieds for clean-burning vehicles.”

I’ve worked for years with a variety of alternative fuel industries and Clean Cities programs and there has always been a blaring gap between the OEM’s and resale markets for alternative fuel vehicles,” said Zilberfarb. “This site closes that gap and creates a useful clearinghouse for Clean Cities coordinators across the country to buy good, quality used vehicles that reduce our nation’s carbon footprint.”

NEC Food Vs Fuel Panel Includes Fact and Fabrication

Ethanol has been scapegoated for just about every blip in food markets in recent years, but the question of whether that is fact or fabrication was taken on during the recent 17th annual National Ethanol Conference.

In keeping with the NEC’s tradition of generating constructive debate by exposing members to opposition viewpoints, the Food Versus Fuel panel included Dr. Steve Meyer of Paragon Economics, who has been an outspoken opponent of ethanol from the viewpoint of livestock producers in particular. The panel was set up in a “point-counterpoint” format, with USDA International Affairs Specialist Dr. Gerard Ostheimer taking the “point” position and leading off the discussion.

Following on the heels of a rousing speech of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Dr. Ostheimer thanked ethanol producers for their contributions to America’s energy portfolio and noted that the energy policy for development of biofuels was deliberately set up to grow slowly. “We understood that increasing this demand would have an effect on global markets and price and so we chose to do so, not in a shocking way, but in a steady, clear and transparent way and the result has been phenomenal.”

Ostheimer, who represents the United States to the Global Bioenergy Partnership, noted that there are several factors that contribute to commodity prices over the next decade, most importantly being demand from countries like China. “Because they’re growing and they want to eat more meat,” he said, adding that input costs are also a huge driver of prices. “We feel that in the developing world we can create synergy between improved energy access from bioenergy, which will improve agricultural yields, which will lift all boats for all people.”

Dr. Meyer opened his remarks by stressing that he is “not opposed to ethanol…expensive oil and gasoline clearly provide an opportunity for ethanol and are a reason that we should continue to make biofuels.”

However, he says his problem with ethanol stems from U.S. energy policy. “The supply of total feed grains and high energy feed ingredients for U.S. livestock, poultry and dairy sectors has gone down,” Meyer claimed, showing data that contradicted Ostheimer’s.

Meyer showed a picture of a starving Ethiopian child being watched by a vulture – a Pulitzer Prize winning photo taken in 1993 that he noted had “nothing to do with ethanol.” While contending that global food prices have increased dramatically since 2006, Meyer also admitted that more food is not the entire answer. “The real thing is that we have to have economic development,” he said. “These people have to have a way to grow food and earn a living and have a way to have a voice in a stable government.”

The use of the shocking photo that had nothing to do with ethanol’s impact on food prices offended many in the audience and helped to justify the claims of the ethanol industry that their opponents use emotionalism, misinformation and fabrication to work against the development of biofuels. “I didn’t think that was at all constructive,” said Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen. “That has no place in a reasonable dialogue.”

Listen to or download the NEC Food vs. Fuel debate here: NEC Food vs. Fuel Panel

2012 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

North Dakota E85 Sales Nearly Double in 2011

E85 sales keep growing in North Dakota. According to the North Dakota Clean Cities program, approximately 1.3 million gallons of E85 were sold in 2011 at more than 70 retail outlets, up from 663,727 gallons sold in 2010.

E85 is an ethanol-based fuel intended only for use in “flex fuel vehicles” (FFVs) that are built to use either E85, gasoline, or other high-ethanol blends. There are more than 64,000 FFVs registered in North Dakota. The American Lung Association in North Dakota recognizes E85 as a Clean Air Choice that flex fuel vehicle drivers can make today to reduce their impact on air quality and lung health.

“Gasoline contains a number of compounds that are potentially hazardous to our health, including benzene, toluene, and xylene,” said Joey Roberson-Kitzman, coordinator of the clean fuels program at the American Lung Association in North Dakota. “E85 is not only cleaner-burning than gasoline, it is made close to home, and helps to support rural families and communities in North Dakota. It helps to diversify our transportation fuel choices, and strengthens our energy security.”

For more information on E85 or a list of where to buy the fuel or to see if your vehicle can use E85, visit the American Lung Association in North Dakota’s Clean Air Choice website.

Ethanol Groups Order Injunction on California LCFS

A coalition of ethanol and agriculture groups, including the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy, have filed a brief urging the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a court-ordered injunction on the low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS).

At issue is California’s request for a stay of the injunction issued by District Court Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill when he ruled in December that the new fuel regulation issued by the California Air Resource Board (CARB) violated the Commerce Clause and was therefore unconstitutional.

In the brief filed Thursday night with the Ninth Circuit, RFA and Growth Energy argue that staying Judge O’Neill’s injunction would harm and disrupt the Midwest ethanol industry, but would not appreciably advance the goals of the LCFS. Growth Energy and RFA provided extensive evidence that Midwest ethanol producers have already been shut out of the California market, and that the LCFS has caused inefficient “shuffling” of fuel previously sold in California to other markets, and vice versa. While the LCFS has come at great cost to the ethanol industry, it has produced no environmental benefits.

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis and RFA CEO Bob Dinneen issued a joint statement to the press in response to questions about the case:

“We are hopeful that the Ninth Circuit Court will see the merits of our argument to uphold Judge O’Neill’s injunction. Ultimately, we believe California’s low carbon fuel standard should be designed and implemented in a fair and legal manner. If we are going to have a low-carbon society, we need to have a low-carbon fuel. Ethanol is the only commercially-viable, low-carbon fuel we have today.”

The two ethanol associations joined in December 2009 to file a lawsuit seeking to stop the LCFS because it would discriminate against Midwest ethanol producers, blocking them from selling clean, renewable ethanol into the California market.

Andersen Windows Converts Fleet to Natural Gas

Window-maker, Andersen Corporation, will begin converting its transportation fleet to use compressed natural gas (CNG), reducing both operating costs and carbon dioxide emissions for the company. A new fueling station, located at the Cedar County Cooperative Cenex near the company’s plant in Menomonie, Wis., will provide the alternative fuel for Andersen.

The conversion of the first seven trucks to CNG is expected to reduce emissions by 28 percent per year. The total savings that Andersen will gain will range between $1.25 and $1.75 per gallon, depending on the market price of diesel. Each truck will be able to achieve about 60 diesel gallon equivalents at 5.7 mpg, yielding a potential range of 342 miles per truck between fueling. The company plans to add more trucks to the program to support their efforts to pursue local, cleaner energy options and reduce total emissions.

The CNG station is the result of a unique partnership between Andersen, Dart Transit Company, U.S. Oil (a division of U.S. Venture, Inc.), Breakthrough®Fuel, and Xcel Energy, and highlights a new type of market collaboration implementing this new technology. The project uses Dart Transit’s Eco Tractor™ powered by U.S. Oil’s GAIN™ CNG supply program to provide the fuel, and Breakthrough®Fuel’s fuel management process to both track the program’s results and pinpoint opportunities to make the program even more efficient. Grants from the Wisconsin State Energy Office were also awarded to support this project.

“We believe finding new ways to use alternative energy is one way to help restore economic growth for everyone, and this project shows how the rubber literally meets the road,” said Lance Whitacre, vice president, logistics at Andersen Corporation. “Leveraging this unique partnership today yields far-reaching benefits for us that improve the triple bottom line – good for people, profitable for companies and beneficial for the environment.”

Rabobank Studies Future of Ethanol for Brazil and U.S.

A report from Rabobank’s global Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory department is looking at the future of ethanol from the perspectives of both Brazilian and United States markets.
rabobank-logo-printRabobank first points out significant changes in U.S. ethanol policy starting in 2012. The VEETC blending credit and a tax on ethanol imports both expired in December 2011 and U.S. ethanol industry groups have shifted their political weight toward initiatives like E15 and advanced biofuels.

Although these developments improve Brazil’s access to the U.S. ethanol market in 2012, the reality is that the Brazilian cane industry may struggle to fully satisfy even its own domestic demand in 2012 owing to a sharp downturn in cane production and an uncertain outlook for output growth.

Brazil became the leading importer of ethanol from the U.S. in 2011.

“Despite the expiration of the tax credit and currently negative margins, we expect U.S. ethanol production to increase slightly in 2012 as an increase in mandated levels of production offsets what we expect to be a decline in exports,” says David C. Nelson, Global Strategist for Grains & Oilseeds with Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory group. “The outlook for exports is heavily dependent upon what happens with the sugar crop in Brazil, the U.S.’s biggest export competitor. Rabobank’s outlook for higher U.S. ethanol production is also predicated on regulatory approval for E15. If E15 is adopted by just 10 Midwest states, that will alleviate current blend wall restrictions.”

Andy Duff, Global Strategist for Sugar and Head of Rabobank’s Food and Agribusiness Research and Advisory Group in Brazil, adds, “Rabobank believes that the abolition of the U.S. import tariff on ethanol represents a significant opportunity for the Brazilian cane sector in the medium to long term. However, in the next few years the focus of the Brazilian industry is likely to be keeping up with the growth of potential consumption in the domestic market, which will continue to rise as a result of expansion of the flex-fuel fleet.”

Read more of Rabobank’s future outlook for ethanol in the United States and Brazil.

REG Launches New Advocacy Website

Renewable Energy Group® (REG) has a new policy advocacy website designed to centralize the company’s constituents and rally support for biodiesel policy issues.

The new site design allows supporters to sign up for informational updates and alerts and then offers an-easy-to-use platform to contact state or federal elected officials. Go online for registration and more information.

“We are urging the friends of REG—who may be vendors, customers, suppliers, partners, shareholders or family members—to sign up to receive federal and state legislative updates and calls to action,” said Scott Hedderich, REG’s Director of Corporate Affairs. “Americans have a constitutional right to make their voices heard and this site helps them utilize that right.”

REG, an active member of the National Biodiesel Board, plans to utilize the website, in part, to extend the industry’s federal policy outreach programs. With biorefineries in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Texas and additional facilities to be completed in Louisiana, New Mexico and Kansas, a nationwide logistics footprint is important to identify and build localized support.

“The biodiesel industry is facing important issues like the expansion RFS2 and the reinstatement of the federal blenders’ tax incentive in order to grow green collar job creation, create a healthy environment and expand energy security,” added Hedderich. “We have a unique opportunity to reach out to our base of business contacts and broaden the reach for biodiesel industry support.”

The Andersons, Inc. to Purchase Iowa Ethanol Plant

Ohio-based company, The Andersons, Inc., will aquire an ethanol production facility in Denison, Iowa from Amaizing Energy Denison LLC and Amaizing Energy Holding Company, LLC. The transaction, which remains subject to several contingencies, is anticipated to close in the second quarter.

If acquired, the plant would be owned by The Andersons Denison Ethanol LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Andersons, Inc. The operations consist of an ethanol facility with an adjacent 2.7 million bushel grain terminal, both with direct access to two Class 1 railroads in Iowa.

“As our first ethanol plant west of the Mississippi, this facility provides us with geographic diversity into some of the best corn ground in the country,” says Neill McKinstray, President, Ethanol Group. “This purchase enables us to expand our ethanol production, marketing and services into a new region providing arbitrage and risk management opportunities with the three existing plants we manage while leveraging existing administrative staff to a fourth plant. With much of the same technology in all four plants, we expect to bring additional efficiencies to drive down our cost per gallon, and maximize returns to shareholders as we have successfully demonstrated during the past five years.”

CEO Mike Anderson, adds, “This is a well-respected, well-run organization that brings with it a solid customer base in a geographic area that we are looking forward to serving. This ethanol facility enables us to offer our grain marketing expertise and the associated services to grain producers in Iowa and fits well with our existing presence as an investor in the Iowa Northern Railway Company and our merchandising relationship with Lansing Trade Group.”

Sam Cogdill, Chairman and CEO of Amaizing Energy, says the proposed sale will address the liquidity concerns of Amaizing Energy’s membership, while retaining the economic benefits the Denison facility has in the local area.

“Our investors were committed to Amaizing Energy to earn a good return on their investment and to further local economic development and we feel great about having met both of those goals,” said Cogdill. “Placing Amaizing Energy on the market while it was a profitable operation has allowed it to reach a fair deal with a great company who we know will operate our plant properly.”

Cool Planet BioFuels Has Breakthrough in Production

Cool Planet BioFuels has made a major breakthrough in converting biomass to gasoline. Using giant miscanthus, an advanced bioenergy crop, the company achieved 4,000 gallons/acre biomass to gasoline conversion in pilot testing. Gasoline has about one and a half times the energy of ethanol, so this is about twelve times more yield than current corn ethanol production levels.

According to the company, the giant miscanthus was developed at the University of Mississippi and provided from a high yield plot by Repreve Renewables. Other advanced bio-energy crops, such as sorghum and switch grass, can provide similar annual yields using this new process.

“These test results are based on nearly optimal crop growth conditions and demonstrate what is possible in a good growing season. Under more routine growing conditions, we estimate yields of about 3,000 gallons/acre should be achievable throughout the Midwest by selecting the proper energy crop for local conditions,” says Mike Cheiky, Cool Planet’s founder and CEO.

Agricultural waste from food crops also can produce up to 1,000 gallons of gasoline/acre using this new technology. The process creates ultra-high surface area carbon in an intermediate step of the conversion process. Some of this carbon can be diverted to form a very potent soil enhancer which can grow more crops and sequester carbon dioxide. Although opting to divert some of the carbon to soil enhancer will reduce the current fuel output, it can generate more fertile farm land for more food and fuel production over a several year period, particularly in areas which have low land productivity today. This sequestering process gives the Cool Planet fuel a low or even negative carbon rating.

Cool Planet’s technology and its potential global impact on climate change and poverty were recently detailed in a talk at Google’s elite SolveForX Conference where 16 speakers presented innovative technologies to address the world’s biggest problems. Each of the talks was reviewed by a group of 50 top scientists, inventors and futurists invited by Google. The consensus on Cool Planet’s presentation was that the company should pursue the carbon sequestration and land productivity enhancement aspects of this technology as well as its fuel production capabilities.

Read more on the renewable cellulosic gasoline process.

More Planting This Year

In our latest ZimmPoll we asked, “What will be planted this year?” It’s that time and everyone seems to have their own idea about what it will be. 45% of respondents said More of both, 32% said More corn less soybeans and 12% each said More soybeans less corn and Less of both. USDA is estimating corn acreage will be higher this year and the highest since 1944 with soybean acres nearly the same as last year. What do you think?

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “Is our food system broken?” During the Bayer CropScience Ag Issues Forum one of our speakers was Gawain Kritke, Oxfam America. He told us “our food system is broken.” I think the statement was made out of frustration that we produce more food than we can eat in this country and a huge amount goes to waste. Since we don’t have a system to get waste food to those who need it they seem to believe the food system is broken. I think it’s a provacative statement and would love your thoughts.

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