Market for ethanol blends continues to grow in Nebraska, Sneller says

Source: By Robert Pore, Grand Island Nebraska Independent • Posted: Monday, June 6, 2016

According to the Nebraska Department of Revenue Motor Fuels Division, in the last 37 years, more than 13 billion gallons of ethanol have been sold in the Nebraska fuel market.

According to Todd Sneller, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator, ethanol has gained a steady market acceptance in Nebraska, starting in 1978 with just 1/10 of a percent of the state’s gasoline blended with ethanol. In 2015, 85 percent of Nebraska gasoline contained ethanol, and currently about 90 percent of the nation’s fuel includes ethanol.

Nebraska has more than 80 fuel pumps around the state that dispense blends higher than E10, including E85 (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline).

According to the Nebraska Ethanol Board, about one in seven Nebraskans are driving a flex fuel vehicle that can operate on any blend of ethanol and gasoline up to E85. In 2001 EPA approved E15 (15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline) for use in light-duty cars, pickups and SUVs model 2001 and newer.

“More fuel retailers are starting to sell E15 and higher blends of ethanol in Nebraska and nationwide,” Sneller said. “Approximately 80 percent of cars, trucks and SUVs on the road today are approved to use E15, and with pollution mitigation efforts underway in large cities, we’ll continue to see more ethanol blended in our fuel.”

In 2015 the use of ethanol in gasoline reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 41.2 million metric tons, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.

Nebraska is the nation’s second largest producer of ethanol, with 25 plants. According to a recent University of Nebraska-Lincoln study, the ethanol industry has a $5 billion annual economic impact on the state.

Recently, Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), congratulated Chief Ethanol Fuels on its acquisition of Cornhusker Energy Lexington, LLC by. He said the acquisition of the Lexington plant will increase the company’s total production capacity to 120 million gallons per year.

“We’re confident that under the steady leadership of the Chief Ethanol Fuels management team, the plant in Lexington will provide high-skill, high-wage jobs and boost conditions for corn farmers and cattle ranchers/feeders in the area,” Jennings said.

Chief Ethanol Fuels in Hastings is the first dry mill ethanol plant in Nebraska. It is currently operating at a rate of 70 million gallons per year. Chief Ethanol Fuels General Manager Duane Kristensen is the vice president of the ACE Board of Directors.

Sneller said ethanol and its co-products can also serve as the foundation for many next-generation bioproducts, from green chemicals to nutraceuticals and animal feed supplements in Nebraska.

According to the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED), bioscience companies employ more than 16,000 people in Nebraska, and this number continues to grow at a rate that outpaces the national average.

“Nebraska is well-suited to capitalize on the next wave of scientific breakthroughs in the biosciences,” said Phil Kozera, executive director of Bio Nebraska Life Sciences Association. “There are many opportunities for next-generation companies to evolve in Nebraska, which leads to job creation and strengthening the state’s global leadership in value-added agriculture.”

“Ethanol plant locations have a steady and abundant supply of grain, oilseeds, biomass and livestock, on which many bio-based technologies depend,” Sneller said.

In addition, Nebraska has a number of economic development incentive programs in place for companies. One comprehensive package, Nebraska Advantage, offers significant tax incentives for companies that relocate or expand their businesses in the state, said DED Director Courtney Dentlinger.

Dozens of bio companies have already located in Nebraska, Dentlinger said, including NatureWorks (corn-based plastics), Novozymes (enzyme technology), Purac (lactic acid), Laurel BioComposite (bioresins from distillers grains) and Pharmgate (animal pharma-ceuticals).