Efficient producers approved for expanded ethanol production

By Susanne Retka Schill | December 30, 2014

Nine ethanol producers received approval recently under the U.S. EPA’s efficient producer petition process. It allows those producers to generate renewable identification numbers (RINs) above the registered volume that was grandfathered in under the renewable fuel standard (RFS).

According to the EPA webpage for the Efficient Producer Petition Process,  a new expedited review can be used for fuel pathways involving certain fuel types, feedstocks and fuel production technologies that EPA has already evaluated. Petitioners have to demonstrate “superior process efficiency through reduced onsite energy consumption, increased fuel output and/or use of biomass or biogas from certain sources to reduce process energy greenhouse gas emissions.”

The list of plants receiving approval late in November include: Cardinal Ethanol LLC, Union City, Indiana; CHS Rochelle, Rochelle, Illinois; Husker Ag LLC, Plainview, Nebraska; Little Sioux Corn Processors LLLP, Marcus, Iowa; NuGen Energy LLC, Marion, South Dakota; Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC, Annawan, Illinois; Red Trail Energy LLC, Richardton, North Dakota; Siouxland Ethanol LLC, Jackson, Nebraska; Marquis Energy LLC, Hennepin, Illinois.

Under the Energy Independence and Security Act that established the current RFS, the gallons produced by first-generation ethanol plants utilizing corn starch were grandfathered in. Any new gallons have to prove at least a 20 percent greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction. With just a handful of plants getting approval of additional gallons since the final rule was published in 2010, the EPA announced the expedited process Sept. 30 and published the first petitions to be approves on its website in early December.

The new pathway petition system sets the criteria for who can use the expeditied process and asks producers to provide process modeling flow charts, a mass balance showing all inputs and outputs, an energy balance including energy and process heat inputs and outputs, plus other relevant information. Efficient producers approved under the new pathway have recordkeeping requirements to demonstrate the GHG reductions are realized.  

The new efficient producer pathway is part of a plan announced in March by the EPA to improve its pathway petition process.  At that time, it estimated it would take six months and in late September, the agency announced the first results of its LEAN exercise.