More Than Btus, Bushels and Facts

The people featured in ACE's Power by People campaign are regular people who just so happen to care deeply about clean air, affordable fuel, and our economic well-being, writes Brian Jennings. The second phase of the campaign will launch soon.
By Brian Jennings | October 17, 2014

In 2014, the American Coalition for Ethanol launched a new and proactive digital campaign based upon the personal stories, authenticity, and persuasiveness of people who use or help make ethanol. Our campaign is simply entitled Power by People, so if you’re on social media look for the hashtag #PowerByPeople or just click to our website.

Power by People prominently features Bruce Vollan, a fuel marketer who in the fall of 2008 was faced with the challenge to change his business or get out. So, he made the decision to switch over to blender pumps because they provided him an opportunity to offer new and affordable fuel choices to his customers.  As Bruce says in one of our campaign videos, “When we will have you give people the choice, it is amazing, and every time they have a choice they prefer higher blends of ethanol. So for us, it resulted in a doubling of our business overnight.” Bruce simply set out to improve his business, but in doing so he did what Big Oil says can’t be done, he made the E10 blend wall irrelevant.  Today ethanol comprises more than 20 percent of all his sales. His customers seem to prefer either E30 or E85, but what they really appreciate are the choices he provides.

Rather than first introducing himself to people as a farmer, ACE board president Ron Alverson often says he’s the “manager of a 2,500-acre solar collector which produces carbohydrates, protein, oil, livestock feed and ethanol.” In our campaign, Ron passionately testifies to the efforts of farmers to reduce tillage and improve the sustainability of their operations, which can help result in making premium low-carbon fuels.  It is the advocacy and authenticity of farmers like Ron Alverson that will be needed to help us convince the U.S. EPA and Congress to look at corn ethanol in a fresh new way.

Quad County Corn Processors plant engineer Travis Brotherson is also part of our Power by People campaign. Knowing how important cellulosic ethanol is to decision makers in Washington, we wanted to help Quad County promote the successful start-up of its bolt-on technology to convert corn kernel fiber into cellulosic biofuel. In one of our campaign videos you’ll hear Travis say “taking the job as engineer at Quad County Corn Processors was one of the best decisions of my life because it gave my wife and I an opportunity to stay in our home place.” Travis could have been living in sunny Florida helping NASA build rockets. What Quad County provided Travis and his wife, Kristi, were jobs in their home place and the freedom to innovate, take chances and make cellulosic ethanol history together.

Bruce, Ron and Travis are just some of the people in our campaign, and what they help us do is remind the public and policymakers that ethanol isn’t just about Btus and bushels or facts and figures. Ethanol is also about people, regular people who just so happen to care deeply about clean air, affordable fuel, and our economic well-being.

Soon, we’ll launch the second phase of our campaign. We’re going to tell the truth about ethanol by shifting our focus from sterile performance characteristics of the molecule to the remarkable, inspiring stories of the people who are responsible for delivering such tremendous benefits to their communities and the entire nation. If you have an inspiring story to share, give us a ring.

As the grassroots voice of ethanol, ACE is uniquely positioned to do this and we feel it is our responsibility. ACE members represent the heart and soul, the sharpest minds of the industry, and come from various walks of life and have experiences that can help us convey that ethanol shouldn’t merely be valued by the barrels of foreign oil and the tons of greenhouse gas emissions it displaces, it should also be measured based on the human good it delivers.

The icing on the cake is that we don’t need to spend as much money as the oil companies. If we’re smarter, and we capitalize on our industry’s best kept secrets—the authenticity and compelling stories of grassroots ethanol advocates—which will gives us the home field advantage that Big Oil’s war chest cannot overcome.
Author: Brian Jennings
Executive Vice President
American Coalition for Ethanol
[email protected]