EPA gives Valero Albert City efficient ethanol producer status

By Susanne Retka Schill | September 09, 2015

Valero Renewable Fuels, Albert City, Iowa, is the latest plant to achieve the U.S. EPA’s efficient producer status, bringing the total to 41. The new status allows the 120 MMgy plant to generate renewable identification numbers (RINs) for ethanol production above the volume grandfathered in when the revised renewable fuels standard (RFS) was passed in 2007.  

Table 2 in the notification letter posted to the EPA’s website summarizes the plant’s  lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, showing that the Valero Albert City process has a 25.4 percent reduction in GHG emissions compared to the baseline gasoline. That compares with the industry average of 16.8 percent reduction for plants grandfathered in that was calculated by the agency when it first published the RFS rule in 2010.

Valero’s Albert City plant joins its sister plants at Charles City, Iowa, (GHG reduction of 26.7 percent), Aurora, South Dakota (22.1 percent GHG reduction) and Hartley, Iowa, (22.3 percent GHG reduction) that were approved earlier this year.

The efficient ethanol producers have successfully petitioned the EPA to recognize their ethanol yields and energy efficiencies are resulting in GHG emissions that are at least 20 percent less than the baseline gasoline value set in the renewable fuel standard (RFS). The designation allows the ethanol producers to generate RINs on additional gallons above the volume that was grandfathered in under the RFS, as long as they can document ongoing GHG reductions. Plants are required to collect data on a daily basis showing the bushels of feedstock ground, the consumption of electricity and natural gas and the gallons of ethanol produced. The data is used to calculate a rolling daily average GHG value using an EPA spreadsheet.

EPA announced the streamlined efficient producer petition process a year ago, naming the first batch of nine plants in December, another 10 in January, five in March, eight in May and nine in early July, one of which is a proposed South Dakota plant.  For an in-depth article described the EPA's efficient producer petition process, read "Efficient Producers Up the Ante."