RIN holders meet first yearly deadline

By Kris Bevill | June 02, 2008
Web exclusive posted June 6, 2008 at 11:15 a.m. CST

The U.S. EPA, regulator of renewable identification numbers (RINs), is compiling data from its first year-end "attest engagements" filing requirement. The attestations served as a self-audit for companies that have generated or owned RINs and allowed both the individual company and the EPA to review internal processes, the reporting process and day-to-day compliance of EPA regulations. The deadline for filing the attestations was May 31.

Roxanne Smith, press officer for the EPA, said any party that expects to be subject to EPA rule is required to register with the agency and then file a report accordingly. Smith estimated that 1,000 companies filed yearly summaries with the EPA to meet the May 31 deadline. Some companies were allowed waivers for various reasons and will not have to file until May 2009, therefore the total number of participating companies does not represent the total number of companies that generated or traded RINs in 2007. Until Sept. 1, 2007, there were no RIN regulators. Therefore, 2007 reports were to be filed on May 31, 2008. Smith was unable to estimate what percentage of companies did not file the report on time.

David Bennett, certified public accountant for RIN Attest and Advisory Services in Connecticut, has conducted approximately 30 attestations for various RIN-holding companies in the United States since March. He told Ethanol Producer Magazine that there were quite a few companies that experienced problems when compiling data for filing. The main problem witnessed by Bennett, was that not all companies have efficient ways of tracking their data.

"For a lot of small companies that don't have sophisticated, dedicated software…they're using Excel [to track RIN movement]," he said. "The templates the EPA has provided on their website is exactly that, it's an Excel template. For companies who have the resources and abilities they can build and buy a system that has those templates built into it so that hopefully at the end of the quarter all they have to do is push a button and all the data is compiled and the appropriate reports are output."

Bennett said companies that do not use specific software have to rely on manual input of numbers, resulting in a large possibility for human error. The EPA is aware of this problem and as a result mandates an annual CPA audit to rectify any errors that may have occurred throughout the company's yearly record-keeping.

Other problems Bennett witnessed while conducting attestations stemmed from companies not having enough human resources to adequately handle RIN regulations and erroneous RIN processes.

Lack of knowledge on how to properly keep track of RINs has been another problem for companies, according to Bennett. "The EPA tells what to do, not how to do it," he said. That has been a problem and the agency is aware of it, he said. In an attempt to better inform companies that deal with RINs, the EPA has begun issuing question and answer documents on its website every few months.

After working with a number of businesses to file the individual company's yearly attestation, Bennett has come up with the following suggestions for companies to help them improve their RIN-tracking departments:

  • Find a computer system that will support your activities and use it.

  • If RIN-tracking is done in-house, elect a person to become familiar with the regulations and how they apply to the company. This should be the person's sole focus as it is quite intensive work.

  • Watch the EPA's website for alerts and answers to questions your company may have. The EPA's website is www.epa.gov.