Pacific Ethanol CEO honored at national conference

By Renewable Fuels Association | February 22, 2017

Pacific Ethanol CEO Neil Koehler, cofounder of California’s first ethanol production company, has received the Renewable Fuels Association’s 2017 Industry Award. The award is given annually to individuals who demonstrate great dedication and innovation within the industry. Koehler, who is also vice chairman of the RFA board of directors, was presented the award Wednesday during the 22nd Annual National Ethanol Conference in San Diego.

Prior to launching Pacific Ethanol in 2003, Koehler ran Parallel Products, California’s first ethanol production company—which made ethanol from beverage waste—and also founded Kinergy Marketing, an ethanol marketing company. Pacific Ethanol’s initial focus was on destination ethanol plants, building facilities on the West Coast, not in the traditional Midwest where most of the nation’s corn is grown. The company now owns eight biorefineries in five states with a combined production capacity of 515 MMgy.

As CEO of Pacific Ethanol, Koehler has embraced cutting-edge technologies to improve efficiencies and reduce the company’s carbon footprint. Pacific Ethanol was one of the first companies to begin producing cellulosic ethanol at its Stockton, California, plant in late 2015, and will be the first ethanol company to install a commercial solar electricity system at its Madera, California, ethanol plant. The company is a leader in the production of low-carbon renewable fuels.

“From Henry Ford to Jimmy Carter to Donald Trump, renewable fuels have always been at the forefront of transportation policy,” said Koehler. “I've been lucky and appreciative to be a part of something so essential to the community. ‘Grow your own.’ Farmers understand what that means. On behalf of everyone who works at Pacific Ethanol and the thousands of individuals who have advanced the cause over the centuries, thank you,” he added.

“Neil has been a longtime fixture in the U.S. ethanol industry and consistently been an early adopter of new technologies,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Pacific Ethanol has helped to lead the industry in the transition to low carbon renewable fuels, and Neil has been one of our industry’s best and most vocal advocates. On behalf of the RFA, we congratulate Neil on his achievements. This award is well deserved.”

Past recipients of the RFA Industry Award include Ron Fagen, Dave Vander Griend, Ron Miller and Terry Branstad.