ACE Helps Retailers with Higher Blend Infrastructure Funding

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The latest round of USDA’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) closed this week. HBIIP provides $100 million in grants to pay up to 50 percent of the cost of equipment for station owners to add or upgrade equipment and sell higher ethanol blends like E15 and E85. It is separate from the $500 million provided in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Chief Marketing Officer Ron Lamberty says they were able to assist fuel retailers throughout this latest application window. “ACE is happy to have assisted marketers who applied for grants for nearly a hundred new retail locations as well as some blending facilities, and we appreciate USDA HBIIP Program Manager Jeff Carpenter’s efforts to make the program more accessible to retailers, by reaching out to ACE and others early in the process and allowing us to provide our observations and input we received from our industry partners in previous rounds of the program,” said Lamberty.

“Over the summer and fall, ACE promoted USDA’s biofuel infrastructure program through our flexfuelforward.com website, advertising in c-store industry publications, and by connecting with retailers in person at trade shows and a workshop we hosted featuring Carpenter and some top fuel marketers. We also made it easier for retailers to find information online with a new portal on flexfuelforward.com to sign up for updates, and submit questions and concerns surrounding the program, and we updated the short, fuel marketer-focused videos featuring Jeff (Carpenter) and breaking down the daunting HBIIP application process in to smaller pieces we hope are easier to follow and complete.”

Lamberty says ACE looks forward to providing input next week on how to improve future rounds of funding, including making funds more accessible to small marketers. “As this HBIIP deadline approached, we heard from prospective high-blend retailers waiting to apply for upcoming IRA funds, citing 75 percent cost share versus HBIIP’s 50 percent. Marketers know 75 percent is only an option, but 50 percent max is a certainty this round. If HBIIP applications end up being down, it’s an indication of increased interest in the next round, not decreased interest in this one.”

Read more from ACE.

ACE, blends, Ethanol, Ethanol News

Diverse Groups Push for Year Round E15

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

A broad coalition of energy and agriculture organizations is calling on Congress to quickly adopt legislation that would provide equal regulatory treatment for all gasoline blends containing 10 percent ethanol (E10) or more, including gasoline with 15 percent ethanol (E15).

A letter to Senate Leaders Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, was signed by the Renewable Fuels Association, American Petroleum Institute, American Farm Bureau Federation, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Growth Energy, National Association of Convenience Stores, National Corn Growers Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, National Sorghum Producers, NATSO, representing truckstops and travel plazas, and SIGMA: America’s Leading Fuel Marketers.

“Due to the current policy, it is extremely difficult for many fuel marketers and retailers that may desire to offer E15 to their customers in the summer months to source that product,” according to the letter. “Our groups have come together—for the first time ever—to support legislation that would resolve this issue once and for all.”

The groups are advocating for a simple legislative fix that would provide equal treatment nationwide to all gasoline blends containing 10 percent ethanol or more, while simultaneously superseding state regulatory action recently sought by a group of governors. “By ensuring uniformity across the nation’s fuel supply chain, federal legislation will provide more flexibility and result in more consistent outcomes than a state-by-state regulatory landscape,” the letter says.

“In the absence of such legislation, we could see gasoline marketplace uncertainty and political disputes over E15 that would continue to resurface every summer. Thus, we urge Congress to act quickly to adopt legislation that will bring certainty and consistency to the fuel market, while also finally resolving long-standing differences among many stakeholders about fuel volatility regulations.”

Ag group, E15, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

Sheetz Offers 15% Ethanol Fuel for Thanksgiving Discount

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

Mid-Atlantic convenience store chain Sheetz kicked off the holiday season this week by reducing the price of its Unleaded 88, 15% ethanol blended fuel, to $1.99 a gallon. This promotion started Monday and runs through November 28, 2022 to help families save at the pump as they travel for Thanksgiving. The company offers Unleaded 88 at 368 store locations throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio and North Carolina and customers can check if their local Sheetz sells Unleaded 88 through the Sheetz mobile app or website.

“Sheetz is a family owned and operated company and we are always looking for ways to help the communities we serve,” said Travis Sheetz, President and CEO of Sheetz. “We are excited to extend this offer to our customers as many of them start hitting the road for the Thanksgiving holiday.”

Sheetz is also offering a special promotion that can be utilized even after this offer ends on November 28, 2022. Customers who sign up to become My Sheetz Rewardz members using code FUELUP88 during this promotion, and purchase Unleaded 88 fuel, will receive 500 points within 24 hours of this promotion ending. These points can be redeemed for fuel discounts as well as food and drink items in store. Customers can become a My Sheetz Rewardz member by downloading the Sheetz app.

Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Geoff Cooper says the Sheetz holiday special of $1.99 per gallon compares to the national average price of $3.66 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline. “At a time when so many families are hitting the road to come together for a special holiday, this is a great gift for those who have access to Sheetz stores,” RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper said.

Sheetz conducted a similar promotion over the Independence Day holiday in July.

 

E15, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, Retailers, RFA

Ethanol Making Thanksgiving Visits More Affordable

Cindy Zimmerman

The cost of this year’s traditional Thanksgiving dinner may be 20 percent higher this year compared to last, and gas prices are up 30 to 40 cents a gallon, but ethanol is still helping families save money at the pump this holiday to visit friends and relatives.

AAA predicts that 54.6 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home for the holiday, approximately 90% of them by car. Analysis by the Renewable Fuels Association indicates that ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply is expected to save Thanksgiving travelers nearly $140 million on gasoline purchases over the long holiday weekend.

Based on the most recent monthly data, E10, a 10% ethanol blend that is prevalent at gas stations nationwide, is saving drivers $0.32 per gallon at the pump. The discount has averaged $0.23 per gallon since January—on pace to reduce Americans’ spending on gasoline by $34 billion, or $240 per household, for the year as a whole.

The discount is even greater for E15, a 15% ethanol blend that is approved for more than 95% of the cars and trucks on the road today. According to E15prices.com, the national average retail price of E15 has been $0.35 per gallon less than E10 this year (the differential stood at $0.38 on November 16). If E15 were adopted nationwide, it would reduce household spending on gasoline by $47 billion this year, or almost $370 per household. And, as recently noted by EIA, E15 helped keep a lid on pump prices in the summer of 2022, as the market faced tight fuel supplies and record-high prices.

Read more from RFA.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

K-State Researchers Working to Improve Biofuel Feedstocks

Cindy Zimmerman

K-State researchers Timothy Durrett and Ruth Welti

Kansas State University researchers are working with a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to improve oilseed crops for use as biofuels and other bioproducts.

Timothy Durrett, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, and Ruth Welti, university distinguished professor of biology, received nearly $1.9 million to better understand how changing the biochemistry of oilseed plants alters their oil production.

The research group is working with camelina and pennycress — non-food oilseed crops that can be used as cover crops by farmers. Durrett says these plants have not benefited from the breeding that has increased yield in other crops. This research will help scientists better understand how the plants synthesize fatty acids to make lipids while also improving oil production and crop profitability.
Learn more about the research.

biofuels, feedstocks, Research

Clean Fuels Elects New Governing Board Members

Cindy Zimmerman

Clean Fuels Alliance America members met in Washington D.C. this week to elect new Governing Board leaders, reflecting the interests of both large and small companies, biodiesel and renewable diesel producers, as well as soybean growers and renderers.

Mike Rath, senior vice president with Darling Ingredients, was appointed Clean Fuels Chair. “This is an exciting time for the clean fuels industry,” said Rath. “Looking back over the last two decades, the industry has made tremendous strides in introducing new fuels to the U.S. market. Our industry currently meets 5% of the country’s need for heavy-duty on-road transportation fuel. And our growth is accelerating to meet new markets.”

Clean Fuels members voted to fill eight board seats for two-year terms:
· Greg Anderson, Nebraska Soybean Board
· Tim Keaveney, HERO BX
· Courtney Lawrenson, Ag Processing Inc.
· Gary Louis, Seaboard Energy LLC
· Tim Ostrem, South Dakota Soybean Checkoff
· Mike Rath, Darling Ingredients Inc.
· Rob Shaffer, ASA
· Paul Teta, Kolmar Americas, Inc.
Continuing to serve on the board for a second year are:
· Danielle Brannan, New Leaf Biofuel
· Kent Engelbrecht, ADM
· Neville Fernandes, Chevron Renewable Energy Group
· Chris Hill, Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council
· Ryan Pederson, North Dakota Soybean Council
· Harry Simpson, Crimson Renewable Energy
· Dave Walton, Iowa Soybean Association

The board appointed Rob Shaffer as Vice-Chair, Gary Louis as Second Vice-Chair, Ryan Pederson as Treasurer, Paul Teta as Secretary, and Kent Engelbrecht as Past Chair. Clean Fuels also extended its appreciation to retired governing board Chair Chad Stone, from Chevron Renewable Energy Group.

“Our members elected Chad just as we launched our vision to build a 6-bilion-gallon U.S. industry by 2030. He led our organization through its rebranding to represent all of the fuels we produce – biodiesel, renewable diesel, and sustainable aviation fuel. And he has left us stronger than ever, as our industry rapidly grows and diversifies to meet demand for better, cleaner fuels. We can’t thank Chad enough for his time, commitment, and advocacy,” said Clean Fuels CEO Donnell Rehagen.

aviation biofuels, Biodiesel, Clean Fuels Alliance

Ethanol Blend Rates Hit Record Levels in Summer 2022

Cindy Zimmerman

The Energy Information Administration reports that this past summer, the price of fuel ethanol was lower than the price of the petroleum component of gasoline, which led to record-high fuel ethanol levels in gasoline sold in the country.

“The fuel ethanol blend rate, based on our data going back to 2007, established a new record summer average of 10.5% in 2022,” EIA reports. “Last year, the average summer blend rate was 10.3%. In 2020, the EPA also issued a summertime E15 fuel waiver, bringing the average summer blend rate to 10.4%. The summer blend rate was 10.0% in 2019 and 10.1% in 2018, and it averaged lower percentages in all previous years.”

EIA says ethanol’s price discount to gasoline was one factor that led to the higher summer blend rate in 2022. “Although ethanol prices have been high in 2022, they have been low relative to gasoline prices, which were at their highest since 2014 this summer because of low domestic inventories and constraints on refining capacity. When factoring in the renewable identification number (RIN) credit for blending ethanol with gasoline, ethanol’s discount to gasoline has been especially strong.”

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper says the EIA analysis confirms that American drivers gravitated toward lower-cost E15 and E85 this summer as war in Ukraine drove pump prices to record heights. “The report also demonstrates that President Biden made the right call by issuing emergency waivers to allow the continued sales of E15 through the summer months,” said Cooper. “The Biden administration’s emergency waivers helped stave off fuel shortages and ensured consumers had uninterrupted access to E15, which was typically priced 20-40 cents per gallon lower than regular gasoline. EIA’s analysis also shows that consumption of lower-carbon renewable fuels increases, as expected, when the Renewable Fuel Standard and its RIN market mechanism are allowed to work as intended. This report comes at a critical time and underscores the importance of permanently removing the summertime barrier to E15 sales and implementing robust RFS volume requirements for 2023 and beyond.”

Cooper notes that the report matches a recent analysis by RFA Chief Economist Scott Richman, which found an additional 194 million gallons of E15 were sold during the summer as a result of the Biden administration’s RVP waivers, saving American consumers $57 million.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA, RFS

RFA Joins Ag Bioeconomy Coalition

Cindy Zimmerman

The Renewable Fuels Association has joined the Ag Bioeconomy Coalition, a group founded earlier this year to advance federal policy initiatives that “foster growth toward an economy based on innovative bio-based products derived from agricultural commodities, including ethanol and other renewable fuels.”

“With smart policy and targeted investment, the U.S. agriculture and bio-manufacturing sectors can provide practical solutions to today’s most pressing challenges, including energy market volatility, climate change, food insecurity, and underdevelopment in rural areas,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “RFA is pleased to join with other leaders in the bioeconomy to advocate for policies that seize on the enormous potential of bio-manufacturing to help solve these complex problems and improve the quality of life for all Americans.”

Other coalition members include American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, Corn Refiners Association, Growth Energy, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Corn Growers Association, and National Hemp Association and Plant Based Products Council.

Cooper notes that ethanol is poised to play a leading role in the energy transition, both as a transportation fuel and as a building block for advanced bio-products and chemicals. According to USDA, biobased products already displace approximately 9.4 million barrels of oil annually and have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 12.7 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents per year. These GHG benefits will grow in the future, as the carbon footprint of ethanol and other bioproducts continues to shrink. In 2021, RFA’s producer members unanimously pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner.

biofuels, Carbon, Energy, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

New Grants Support RFA Ethanol Safety Programs

Cindy Zimmerman

The Renewable Fuels Association has again received grant funding to continue to support its safety education program through its work with TRANSCAER, a voluntary national outreach program that focuses on community preparedness for possible hazardous material transportation incidents.

A $25,000 grant from the Federal Railroad Administration will support eight ethanol safety seminars and four “train the trainer” webinars for first responders, and a $40,432 Community Safety Grant from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) will fund four Ethanol & Steel Drum Safety seminars in conjunction with the Industrial Steel Drum Institute.

“These federal funds will provide the Renewable Fuels Association with the opportunity to further their training and outreach initiatives to emergency responders in communities across the United States. Through federal grant funding the RFA has already updated their Ethanol Safety Training program, made their ethanol program available online in Spanish, and offered numerous in-person and virtual learning opportunities,” said Erica Bernstein, Director of Outreach, CHEMTREC and TRANSCAER.

Over 1200 individuals were trained this year through 34 training opportunities supported by RFA’s safety program, which has trained over 15,000 in 400 training sessions and events since 2010. For more information on RFA’s work in this area, visit the Ethanol Emergency Response website at www.ethanolresponse.com, where the training programs conducted in the seminars and webinars can be seen.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA, safety

Western Plains Moving to Carbon Neutral Ethanol Production

Cindy Zimmerman

Western Plains Energy LLC in Oakley, Kansas is on a mission to become the first zero emissions U.S. ethanol producer with the installation of the first Whitefox ICE®-XL system in the country.

“Our quest to achieve net-zero emissions is something that we are passionate about, and we are excited to partner with Whitefox to help us achieve our goal,” said Western Plains CEO Derek Peine. “Since beginning operations in 2004, Western Plains has always been on the forefront of innovation and an early adopter of technologies that deliver step-changes in energy efficiency and operational yield. In our discussion with Whitefox we found that its ICE-XL integrated membrane solution would serve as a cornerstone in fully decarbonizing our production process.”

Tony Short, Head of Global Sales at Whitefox said, “Whitefox ICE-XL is an evolution of the Whitefox ICE® which we have installations in 9 US ethanol plants. ICE-XL fully replaces existing molecular sieves and delivers exceptional operational benefits such as up to 50% capacity increase across distillation and dehydration and 50% steam reduction when fully integrated.”

The companies report that the initial engineering phase is already in progress and the project has an estimated start-up and commissioning date towards the end of next year.

Carbon, Ethanol, Ethanol News