See You in the Sunshine

FROM THE FEBRUARY ISSUE: Editor Lisa Gibson previews the magazine, including feature articles about the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, options available to retailers who want to add E15, a look at loadout area safety improvements, and more.
By Lisa Gibson | January 23, 2019

I’ll be in California for a few days this month at Growth Energy’s Executive Leadership Summit. I’m eager to hear the discussions and presentations on E15, marketing, industry growth and demand, but I’m also just happy to leave behind a North Dakota winter—and air that hurts my face. Besides having far better weather than North Dakota, California also leads the way in renewables goals and, perhaps more important, incentives to achieve them.

Details and explanations of the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard have graced the pages of Ethanol Producer Magazine, but I’ve wondered how, exactly, the legislation affects ethanol producers and what they’re doing to comply with it. For this issue, we found out.

In our cover story, freelancer Susanne Retka Schill talks to a few producers in California about carbon intensity (CI) scores, how to keep them low and why it’s beneficial. The math shows that the measures those plants have taken to reduce CI scores, and the partnerships they’ve made to use waste (many with dairies and landfills), are bringing in money. Find out which pathways those plants use and what CI scores they’re achieving, starting on page 22.

E15 is everywhere. (Maybe that should have been the headline of the feature starting on page 30. We’ll get it next time.) Associate Editor Matt Thompson delves this month into the E15 pump options for retailers, as we cling to hope that our Reid vapor pressure waiver will come in time for the 2019 summer driving season. One retailer says E15 can be added to product offerings without a huge capital expense. Another of Thompson’s sources acknowledges the cost is high, but the return is, too.

In conducting interviews for feature No. 3 in this issue, it’s possible I learned more about the nature of the people in our industry than I did about the subject matter. This article covers safety improvements to loadout areas, focusing specifically on Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy’s 2016 fatal fire, and the measures the plant has taken since to prevent accidents—not only at SIRE, but across the entire industry. Plant Manager Dan Wych says informing other producers of the dangers in the details in loadout areas was SIRE’s “duty,” its “obligation.” The company has been open and vocal about changes it made and risk factors it didn’t know it had. Other plants have followed its lead and implemented similar upgrades. Wych says the ethanol industry is like a family, and it seems to me he’s right. The article starts on page 36.

Finally, feature four looks at the renewable natural gas industry, on the heels of DuPont Cellulosic Ethanol’s sale to a Germany-based RNG producer. The plant will be converted to produce RNG, a fuel that earns the vast majority of D3 renewable identification numbers. The RNG industry says its product is not in competition with ethanol, and our own industry experts tend to agree. There’s room under the renewable biofuels umbrella for all, they say. Find it on page 44.

I’m not the only one here who gets to escape a frigid North Dakota February. Thompson will be in Florida for the Renewable Fuels Association’s National Ethanol Conference. So, whether you’re heading to California or Florida, we’ll see you in the sunshine.

Author: Lisa Gibson