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Home > Renewable Energy > Biofuels Task Force > Biofuels Task Force Meeting Minutes - 12-11-2013

Biofuels Task Force Meeting Minutes - 12-11-2013


Orville L. Freeman Building, Room B555, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Task Force members present: Larry Johnson, Ralph Groschen, Tim Gerlach (MCGA), Ryan Hayes (Arctic Cat), Dustin Haaland (CHS, Inc.), Lance Klatt (MSSA), Brian Kletscher (Highwater Ethanol), Erik Osmon (Bushmills Ethanol), Bruce Jones (Mankato State U.), John Kasab, Ricardo (on phone), Charlie Poster, MDA (chairperson)

Others in attendance: Kevin Hennessy ( MDA); Ian Thomson (Western Canada Biodiesel Association, by phone), Lisa Hughes (DEED, by phone), Jake Hamlin (Cargill, by phone), Kevin Thoma (MPMA), Patrick Murray (Cooperative Network), Sandy Neren (Messerli and Kramer), Darrel Bunge (Endbridge), Chuck Westin (Westin, Schulte and Bunge), David Thornton (MPCA), Mike Rothman (Commissioner, DOC), Julie Quinn (MN Weights and Measures), Peter Brickwedde (DOC), Bob Patton (MDA), Mike Jerich (MEPA), Tim Rudnicki (MN Biofuels Association), Brendan Jordan (Great Plains Institute), Nick Elger (University of Minnesota), Kelly Marczak (ALAMN), Jon Hunter (ALAMN), Ray Bohn (MN Biofuels Association), Roger Aiken (CREED), Glen Keren (DOR), John Kavanaugh (Almeida, P.A., Flint Hills Resources), Dan Larson (API), Jeremy Estenson (LS and D), John Scharffbillig (City of Minneapolis), Bruce Heine (Magellan, on phone), Mark Sulzbach (MPCA, by phone).

-Assistant Commissioner Poster opened the meeting just after 1:00 PM with introductions of the task force and the audience members.

-The statute (MS §239.7911) was reviewed.

-Everyone on the task force was asked to offer how they see obstacles as they currently exist to hinder higher biofuel blends in the state. Here is a summary of their comments.

-Obstacles

Brian Kletscher - RVP at EPA level, is that outdated, is there better information? Infrastructure for dispensing – they are getting expensive, RFS issues.

Tim Gerlach - alignment with agencies in achieving goals.

<Charlie Poster – need for partnership important, MDA cannot do this alone.>

Dustin Haaland – CHS either consumes or markets 1 billion gallons of ethanol per year. Moving from mandates to consumer and end-user acceptance – keep the consumer in mind. Would not discount warranty issues. Nothing EPA is saying would hinder growth of renewable fuel. RVP will be significant.

Ryan Hayes - RVP, cold-starting; component compatibility a big issue for small engines though trying to maintain compatibility; durability of legacy vehicles in the hands of consumers.

Bruce Jones-consistency and long-term plan (that moves forward in a logical, feasible way); small engine compatibility; legacy issues; fuel pump compatibility; struggle for small engines is that EPA is still requiring calibration with E0 (change certification fuel).

Larry Johnson – worked with introducing E10 to small engines, communication to consumers (produced a video for the small engine manufacturer in 1990); overcome the small engine shop being the spokesperson for the fuels – a proactive approach to answering consumer concerns; 15% will not be mandated so the issues as not as extreme.

Ralph Groschen – some of the same issues on ethanol and biodiesel that he thought we had surmounted; e.g. UST’s aren’t warrantied but we had no problems; small engines look like “sticky wicket.”

Erik Osmon – will be economic benefit for producers, retailers and marketers; there is optimism as Ralph alluded to; regulatory barriers-are they real problems or not?

Lance Klatt - conversations with MPCA about using E15 as midgrade - PCA wants to be pro-active rather than reactive, retailers want to be responsible-could increase inspections, 3rd party field agent to inspect E15 locations, would report to MPCA; follow EPA guidelines and not go beyond; Bio-fund to support the inspector and/or misfueling liability; infrastructure is very expensive but could offer E15 through inexpensive retrokits; we could be the first state to offer E15 in a more expansive way, would like to “put it to the test” and see what happens.

John Kasab - echo Bruce’s concerns over certification fuel (not being E0); misfueling and warranties – warranties for legacy vehicles and liability; working with EPA to get E20/25/30 for approval and get so retailers don’t need to upgrade infrastructure all the time.

The remainder of the first half of the meeting was spent discussing the obstacles and potential solutions. Here is a summary of obstacles, along with comments/solutions offered.

  1. E15 as a midgrade blend stalled by UST/dispensing infrastructure needs and costs. Lance Klatt had a variety of ideas about how this issue could be addressed.
  2. Consumer education needs to be conducted by the ethanol industry.
  3. RVP issue – not detailed until the second half of the meeting. E15 has a lower RVP than E10 but was not granted the 1-lb waiver which means E15 cannot be sold from June 1 through September 15, unless blended with lower RVP hydrocarbon blendstock, which is generally not available. Is it possible to obtain a waiver for E15 for the summer months?
  4. Higher blends of ethanol continue to present problems (cold weather starting, component compatibility) for small engines.
  5. Warranty and legacy vehicle compatibility, with the legacy vehicle obstacle is not as serious since E15 is not a mandated fuel.

The second half of the meeting included a presentation from Kelly Marczak of the American Lung Association. ALAMN administers the $3 million grant program for infrastructure improvements for service stations/convenience stores to fund conversions that would allow the station to sell E15 and higher blends of ethanol. So far five stations statewide have received funds with four of those stations being in the seven-county metro area.

One topic that received much time was the discussion of an inspector that would oversee a biofuels program regarding compatibility of a station’s equipment for selling E15. Assistant Commissioner of MPCA David Thornton felt that such a 3rd party inspector would be helpful since station owners are reluctant to approach the MPCA about their compatibility concerns.

There was a short discussion about biobutanol as a gasoline additive. Brian Kletscher stated he felt technology to make biobutanol competitive with ethanol is 2-5 years away.

The meeting adjourned on-time at 3:00 PM.