4 new efficient ethanol producers bring EPA EP3 list to 50

By Susanne Retka Schill | November 06, 2015

One of the Andersons ethanol plants and three Flint Hills Resources plants have been named to the U.S. EPA’s list of efficient ethanol producers. The addition of four plants brings the number approved under the efficient producer petition process (EP3) to 50, which includes one proposed South Dakota plant. That means about one-quarter of the U.S. ethanol industry’s ethanol plants have demonstrated to the EPA that their ethanol yields and energy efficiency meet the 20 percent minimum greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction threshold.   

Under the renewable fuel standard (RFS), existing ethanol plants were grandfathered in to the program at their registered capacities. Any new ethanol plants and any expansions at existing plants had to show GHG reductions better than 20 percent. When EPA published the final rule in 2010, it found the industry’s average GHG reduction compared to the baseline gasoline to be 17 percent. About 40 percent of those GHG emissions came from controversial international land use change modeling.

The rule also established a petition process for those plants able to demonstrate efficiencies better than the average. After processing a handful of such petitions, the agency streamlined the process, developing a spreadsheet where a plant could plug in the bushels of corn used, the gallons of ethanol produced and the electricity and natural gas consumed to calculate the GHG reduction, using the values for GHG lifecycle emissions modeled in the 2010 rule.

Table 2 in the approval letters posted on the EPA’s website provides a summary of the plants’ GHG reductions. The Anderson’s 55 MMgy plant in Albion, Michigan, was found to have a 21.6 percent GHG reduction compared to the baseline gasoline value. The Flint Hills Resources 110 MMgy plant in Fairmont, Nebraska, showed 21.4 percent reduction, the 120 MMgy Camilla plant in Georgia showed 20.8 percent and the 90 MMgy plant in Iowa Falls, Iowa, had 21.3 percent reduction.

While efficient producers can expand production beyond the volume grandfathered in, they must document ongoing GHG reductions by collecting data on a daily basis that is used to calculate a rolling daily average GHG value using an EPA spreadsheet.

The approval letters, dated Oct. 22, were in the eighth batch posted to the EPA website listing approved pathways. For an in-depth article described the EPA's efficient producer petition process, read "Efficient Producers Up the Ante." For the four plants named in September, click here. The article covering the August approval letter to gives links to the earlier stories covering EP3 approvals.