Ethanol Shines In Nebraska Agriculture

Recent reports indicate a strong future for ethanol production in 2017. With added capacity and a diversified platform, ethanol is a bright spot in a bleak agriculture forecast.

An impact study by University of Nebraska-Lincoln economists in 2015 revealed Nebraska’s ethanol production capacity growth between 1995 and 2014 was tenfold with a $5 billion annual economic impact. Just a few years later, that growth continues.

With an operating capacity of approximately 2.2 billion gallons of ethanol, Nebraska ethanol producers used 31 percent of the state’s corn crop in 2016. This operating capacity is an increase of five percent compared to 2015. Production is expected to rise in 2017 with a projected record year for ethanol.

“In a challenging time of agriculture finances, the ethanol sector continues to be a strong market for corn growers,” said Todd Sneller, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator. “This increase in Nebraska ethanol production shows that more corn is being purchased locally and turned into not only ethanol, but a number of valuable co-products.”

In 2016, Nebraska’s ethanol industry produced more than 7.2 million tons of distillers feeds and 268,000 tons of corn oil.  Additional co-products include corn syrup, dry starch and specialty livestock feeds.

“We see what economists describe as an economic ‘bounce’ when we take advantage of the added value as grain is converted to food, fuel, fiber and bio-products,” Sneller said. “There is enormous potential for biofuels to continue to strengthen the economic health of Nebraska.”

In addition to purchasing more corn, several ethanol producers have invested in new technology to increase capacity and product diversification. Sneller noted approximately $150 million in new investments to local ethanol plants like Siouxland Ethanol in Jackson, Flints Hills Resources in Fairmont, E-Energy in Adams, and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in Columbus.

“Plants in Lexington and Ravenna that were recently bought by Nebraska companies are running at capacity and investing in expanded capacity,” Sneller said. “These expansions and new co-products mean additional jobs and income in Nebraska.”

As the second largest producer in the United States, Nebraska’s ethanol production makes a global impact. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the United States exported more than 1 billion gallons of ethanol in 2016, an increase of 26 percent compared to 2015. EIA estimates net exports of ethanol to rise another six percent in 2017.

“We continue to see huge demand for ethanol in Asian and South American markets,” Sneller said. “The robust ethanol export trade means we expect another record-level year in ethanol production.”


Two Featured Presentations Scheduled for Nebraska Ethanol Board Meeting

LINCOLN, Neb. – Connie Lindstrom, senior biofuels analyst at Christianson CPAs and Consultants, and Jamie Rhodes, president of Trestle Energy, are the featured presenters at the Nebraska Ethanol Board meeting Wednesday, March 29.

Lindstrom will present on trends in Nebraska ethanol plant performance. Her company specializes in Biofuels Benchmarking™, which allows ethanol plants to access a vast database of anonymized industry data, insights and reports.

“By observing trends, decision-makers can set priorities and improve processes,” Lindstrom said. “Benchmarking information is key to managing risks, identifying opportunities and prioritizing resource use.”

A growing set of opportunities are emerging for Nebraska ethanol plants and agricultural producers, ranging from process optimizations to plant expansions and development of innovative co-product streams. Rhodes will discuss Trestle’s approach to one set of these opportunities and share his vision for developing crop residue fuel pellets as a co-product of Nebraska ethanol.

“These fuel pellets can be used in Nebraska’s existing coal-fired power plants and industry boilers,” he said. “And because the pellets are a co-product of ethanol, their use can dramatically reduce the carbon intensity of Nebraska ethanol in West Coast markets. These projects can offer a lot of value for both ethanol plants and feedstock producers, and Nebraska’s industries are well positioned to benefit.”

The Nebraska Ethanol Board meeting will be held at the Hyatt Place (600 Q St.) in Lincoln at 8:30 a.m. March 29. Lindstrom and Rhodes will speak at approximately 9 a.m.

Growth Energy CEO to Speak at Ethanol 2017: Emerging Issues Forum

OMAHA, Neb. — Ethanol and biofuels experts from across the nation will be in Omaha for the annual Ethanol: Emerging Issues Forum April 13-14 at the La Vista Conference Center. Gov. Pete Ricketts will open the event issuing a welcome address to attendees.

Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, is one of the featured speakers April 14. Growth Energy represents producers and supporters of renewable energy, who feed the world and fuel America in ways that achieve energy independence, improve economic wellbeing and create a healthier environment for all Americans.

Emily Skor, Growth Energy

“The production and use of ethanol generates a variety of economic and public health benefits,” said Todd Sneller, administrator for the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “We are fortunate to have Emily Skor provide an overview of health and environmental benefits that accrue by using ethanol-blended fuels.”

The Metropolitan Area Planning Agency will soon roll out an array of ground-level ozone mitigation steps that can help the Omaha Metro area combat pollution challenges in 2017. Skor will highlight consumers’ role in reducing pollution when they select ethanol fuels at the pump, Sneller noted.

“Ethanol will play an increasingly important part in reducing the toxicity of gasoline,” he said. “By replacing some of the most dangerous chemicals in gasoline with ethanol, we can reduce adverse health and environmental risks.”

Skor joined Growth Energy in May 2016 as the CEO of the organization. Prior to Growth Energy, she served as the vice president of communications of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) and the executive director of the CHPA Educational Foundation. For more than a decade, she helped Fortune 500 companies and industry associations manage issues affecting brand confidence and corporate reputation through media, advocacy, coalition building and consumer education campaigns.

Wrapping up the final day of the conference, Skor will present at 11:30 a.m. April 14.

The two-day forum, which is in its 12th year, is arranged for ethanol producers and others integrally involved in production, technology, policymaking and marketing of ethanol and its co-products. The forum runs from noon to 5:30 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. to noon Friday.

Other topics during the forum include ethanol marketing challenges; trade policy and its impact on ethanol and DDG exports; emerging trends in ethanol co-products; octane and higher ethanol blends; and integrating technology for efficiency, profitability and sustainability.

More than 130 ethanol industry leaders are expected to be in attendance. Online registration and a detailed agenda are available at Registration is open until 5 p.m. April 12. Scholarships also are available to college and university students and can be accessed online.

The Ethanol 2017: Emerging Issues Forum is presented by the Nebraska Ethanol Board, Clean Fuels Development Coalition, American Coalition for Ethanol and the Nebraska Ethanol Industry Coalition.


McPheeters Appointed to Serve on Nebraska Ethanol Board

Scott McPheeters, NEB Business Representative

Lincoln, Neb. – Scott McPheeters joins the Nebraska Ethanol Board as the business representative. He was appointed by Gov. Pete Ricketts Feb. 9 and sworn in by the legislature March 3.

McPheeters has a family farm operation southwest of Gothenburg, producing food-grade white and yellow corn for Frito-Lay, as well as soybeans and alfalfa hay. His family also has rangeland for beef production. While little of his corn crop actually ends up in ethanol production, he is still passionate about promoting renewable fuels.

“I’m looking forward to working with a board that has been so effective at helping our state build 25 ethanol plants and increasing knowledge and promotion of ethanol use, because it is a win for all parties,” McPheeters said. “It’s good for farmers, livestock producers, consumers, and the environment.”

A founding member of KAAPA (Kearney Area Ag Producers Alliance), the only farmer-owned ethanol plant in Nebraska, McPheeters has been involved in ethanol since 2000. Currently, he serves on the KAAPA board of managers and on the board for a sister company, KAAPA Grains. He was also recently elected to the American Coalition for Ethanol board of directors in 2016.

“Consumers are influenced by a lot of misinformation, and they don’t realize they can save money and the environment by using more ethanol,” McPheeters said. “People are surprised to learn that ethanol is in 98 percent of the U.S. gasoline supply and they’ve been using it successfully.

My objective is simple: provide facts for consumers so they can be confident their cars love ethanol and they should use it every time. It starts with the fact that ethanol is the safest component in gasoline today.”

According to EPA’s Urban Air Toxics report to Congress, U.S. refiners increasingly boost octane by adding refining by-products such as benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene. Several of these chemicals are known and suspected carcinogens, and they’re more expensive additives.

“These products of oil refining, known as aromatics, can produce cancer-causing emissions,” McPheeters said. “Ethanol is much less expensive and burns cleaner than these toxic petroleum-based chemicals. Blending even just 10 percent ethanol in gasoline reduces tailpipe emissions that lead to smog. The inexpensive, renewable, octane-boosting capabilities of ethanol make it an indispensable part of the U.S. motor fuel supply.”

A study released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in January shows that ethanol releases 43 percent fewer greenhouse gases (GHG) than gasoline. The report provides research that corn ethanol is a GHG-friendly alternative to fossil fuels while boosting farm economies.

“I look forward to helping farmers be profitable with additional markets for the corn we produce so efficiently,” McPheeters said. “Agriculture is a huge economic engine for us all, because when farmers make money, they spend it with businesses that put local people to work. We can keep more of our fuel dollars right here in the Corn Belt, rather than sending money to foreign nations.”

When not farming and advocating for ethanol, McPheeters and his wife, Patti, enjoy time with their four children and three grandchildren.

Paul Kenney, who farms near Kearney, Nebraska, preceded McPheeters as the business representative on the Ethanol Board. Kenney was recently elected to the University of Nebraska Board of Regents after serving eight years on the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

McPheeters joins current board members: Mike Thede, chairman (Palmer, Neb.); Jan tenBensel, vice chairman (Cambridge, Neb.); Mark Ondracek, secretary (Omaha, Neb.); Galen Frenzen (Fullerton, Neb.); Tim Else (Belvidere, Neb.); Randy Gard (Grand Island, Neb.); and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chemical Engineering Professor Hunter Flodman, who serves as the board’s technical advisor.

Members of the Nebraska Ethanol Board are appointed by the Governor to serve four-year terms. The seven-member board includes four members actively engaged in farming (general farming, corn, wheat and sorghum), one member representing labor interests, one member representing petroleum marketers and one member representing business. The Board’s technical advisor serves as a non-voting member.


BIOFUELS UPDATE: Grassley Says Executive Order on RFS Obligation Not ‘Imminent’

Reported from OPIS March 3, 2017 at 10:55 EST

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) Wednesday said “there’s no reason to believe” an executive order from President Donald Trump that would change the point of obligation under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is “imminent” and reiterated his support for keeping program compliance responsibility with refiners and fuel importers.

In a statement, the senator said he and his staff “spoke to several sources on reports of an imminent executive order that would make significant changes to the [RFS], specifically to the point of obligation requirement for the renewable fuel.”

“Based on conversations my staff and I had, there’s no reason to believe that such an executive order is pending or imminent. In case a change like that would be under consideration, I expressed my concerns to a top official so my position is known. As I’ve said before, keeping the point of obligation where it is now, with refiners and importers, has worked and makes sense. Moving the point of obligation from a handful of refiners to hundreds or thousands of small fuel retailers would undermine the integrity and viability of this successful program.

“The President and the Administration so far have committed to upholding the Renewable Fuel Standard. I’ll continue to seek answers from the Administration whenever something appears in conflict with that commitment.”