General Manager’s Message – Summer 2023

By Chad Friese, General Manager

After a slow start to Spring again this year, it appears we have turned the corner and are heading in the right direction.  This last week has finally been dry and warm without the previous weeks need for rain gear or grabbing for the winter clothing to be outside.

The ethanol plant has been running great due to its dedicated, experienced staff and the quality corn of area farmers and members.  With high yields on fuel and corn oil production along with steady ethanol demand that has kept supportive prices around we are heading to the last half of our production year looking very good.  The management team continues to look to the future for opportunities and currently are evaluating a lot of carbon projects.  With the current focus on carbon intensity, one begins to wonder where is the understanding that the ethanol industry has been doing this all along.  Better yields, less water usage, less energy usage, is the code by which we’ve been operating the last couple decades.

I guess the market always wants more, and that could be great news for the ethanol industry regarding E15 (unleaded 88).  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been about as supportive as I have seen them in my several years in the industry. There are a couple notes throughout this newsletter that proves this.  It seems as though consumers have really taken a liking to E15 and political support appears to be reinforcing its availability.  The auto manufacturers have approved the product for nearly all models, with almost 95% of market share approved for E15.  A cheaper and cleaner fuel is easy to support, but E30 and E85 are even cheaper and cleaner.  It’s getting more difficult to find new models of Flex Fuel vehicles.  Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve driven the last 150,000 miles on E30 in a non-flex fuel vehicle, thanks to those blender pump stations in Greater Minnesota.

The CVEC investments are all doing great.  My understanding from general discussion with the affiliates and others is that no one has a clear focus on what the future may hold with regard to fueling America.  Like CVEC, they keep moving forward with a focus on a better tomorrow.  I will say that if we are going to progress on a lower carbon fuel market its going to take all of us.  I would really encourage producers to start to think about ways to reduce carbon impacts and to track any changes you make.  Reductions to carbon impact today look to be of future value. I certainly see value in a regenerative carbon model that grows a crop and turns it into energy.  Later, the consumption of that energy releases the carbon for the next cycle and is constantly reducing a little from the last cycle through soil carbon inclusion.   The move towards renewable electricity may not be as effective as renewable energy that recaptures carbon.  I’ll leave you with the thought of considering a plant, more specifically a Corn plant as a small solar array that absorbs the energy of the sun and combines it with carbon from the air.  The seeds of that plant then being converted to a liquid fuel that drives America.