Axne, Small announce $250,000 grant for Elite Octane

By Office of Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa | November 10, 2021

Today, Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, joined USDA’s Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small at the Elite Octane dry-mill ethanol plant in Atlantic to announce a $250,000 energy efficiency grant funded by the Rural Energy for America Program.

The REAP grant will be used by Elite Octane to install a Dryer Exhaust Energy Recovery (DEER) system, which will capture and reuse the energy from the plant’s dryer – allowing the plant to recapture and use 89 million kilowatt hours per year, enough electricity to power close to 6,000 homes.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Iowa’s biofuels sector is on the cutting edge when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint. Not only do their products help keep millions of pounds of carbon out of our air by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, but they’re also implementing systems to recapture the energy, water, and byproducts that they use in their processes to keep them on a path to being total carbon neutral,” Axne said. “These innovations are why I’m glad to see additional funding for REAP grants in our Build Back Better Act – and when combined with other funding that I’ve secured for biofuels infrastructure, will yield great new windfalls for producers, our farmers, and the rural and urban economies in Iowa who benefit from their success.”

“Under the leadership of President Biden, Vice President Harris and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, and thanks to Congresswoman Axne, USDA Rural Development is investing $1.8 million in 92 businesses in Iowa through our Rural Energy for America Program. This investment includes a $250,000 grant to Elite Octane that will help them cut energy costs and increase their bottom line,” Small said. “Rural Development has a strong partner in Congresswoman Axne, who has worked tirelessly to make sure biofuels are driving renewable energy markets. The investments we are announcing today, in addition to investments throughout the Build Back Better agenda, demonstrate how the Biden-Harris Administration is looking to rural America to drive climate smart practices the way they know best. USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural people everywhere because when rural America succeeds, all of America succeeds.” 

The DEER system is projected by USDA to save the Atlantic plant more than $1.2 million a year in energy costs.

The Build Back Better Act, which Axne has been helping craft in the House, allocates an additional $2 billion in funding for REAP grants.

At the Atlantic plant today, the Congresswoman and Under Secretary were joined by stakeholders from Iowa’s renewable fuels community to discuss how biofuels and rural Iowa will benefit from the Build Back Better agenda. Attendees included Atlantic Mayor Dave Jones, Acting State Director of USDA Rural Development Iowa Darin Leach, and representatives from the Cass/Atlantic Development Corporation, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Soybean Association, and Iowa Rural Development Council.

The updated draft text of the Build Back Better Act also includes:

$1 billion in funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide grants over the next 10 years to expand biofuel pump infrastructure, upgrade existing tanks and pumps, and increase usage of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel.

That investment is double the amount originally proposed by Axne in her Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Investment and Market Expansion Act, which she introduced in March.

A four-year extension of the biodiesel tax credit, which was set to set to expire at the end of 2022 after being revived in December 2019 by Axne and her colleagues.

In May, Axne introduced bipartisan legislation to extend the biodiesel tax credit for three years.

A new tax credit to support the creation and usage of Sustainable Aviation Fuel, opening a new and growing market for Iowa biofuels and biodiesel.

These investments are expected to put $500 million into the pockets of Iowa farmers, create new jobs in Iowa’s rural communities, and expand homegrown clean energy sources.