Thursday, September 30, 2004

MN takes a stand

Minnesota, traditionally one of the most progressive states in the USA (Gov Jesse Ventura not withstanding), has announced an aggressive approach to our domestic security/economic/environmental fuel issues:

Governor Tim Pawlenty today declared Minnesota the "renewable fuel capital of America" and said Minnesota will lead the nation toward its renewable fuel future.

More commentary at Green Car Congress

Disclaimer: I grew up in MN.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Oil at $50

Oil hits $50

The U.S. light crude front month contract rose a further 36 cents a barrel in after-hours electronic trading to hit $50, its loftiest level in the 21 years of trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Thursday, September 23, 2004


Wednesday, September 22, 2004

...the policy-makers and the consumers

More top notch analysis from Green Car Congress:

What’s the “Best” Green Transpo Technology?

"There are many different technology options and possible combinations available and emerging for sustainable transportation, short and long term. The complexity and number of variables makes it difficult for stakeholders to sit down and to evaluate definitively the environmental and energy impact of these systems. For automakers faced with different types of regulations, policy makers trying to craft those regulations and consumers trying to do the right thing, the problem can become very confusing."

Jeep Liberty

The '05 Jeep Liberty diesel is factory filled with b5.

Liberty promo site

As the first diesel-powered, mid-size SUV available in North America, Liberty CRD is blazing a new trail so you can go further off road between fill-ups.

  • Best-in-class driving range*
  • Nearly 500 miles to the tank
  • Up to 32 percent better fuel
    economy than comparable gas
  • >>

    Wa State Incentives

    Thinking along the same lines as Martin:

    Considerable B&O and sales tax breaks for biodiesel business (WA State)

    House Bill 1241 – Tax incentives for the distribution and retail sale of biodiesel and alcohol fuels.

    Business & Occupation Tax Exemption

    Summary: All persons engage in business in Washington State pay Business & Occupation Taxes. Amounts received from the retail sale or distribution of alcohol or biodiesel fuel are exempt from the Business & Occupation Tax.

    Eligibility: Any person engaged in the business of retail sale or distribution of biodiesel fuel or alcohol fuel, if the alcohol fuel is at least 85% of the volume of the fuel being sold or distributed.

    Sales and Use Tax Exemption

    Summary: Certain investments in equipment and labor are eligible for an exemption from state and local sales and use taxes.

    Eligibility: Sales and use taxes do not apply with respect to:

    · Machinery and equipment, or to services rendered in respect to constructing structures or installing repairing, cleaning, altering, or improving structures or machinery and equipment used directly for the retail sale of a biodiesel or alcohol fuel blends. Structures and machinery and equipment that are also used for purposes other than the retail sale of biodiesel and alcohol fuel blends are exempt only on the portion directly associated with the retail sale of biodiesel or alcohol fuel blends.

    · Fuel delivery vehicles or to sales of or charges made for labor and services rendered in respect to installing, repairing, cleaning, altering, or improving the vehicles including repair parts and replacement parts if at least 75% of the fuel distributed by the vehicles is a biodiesel or alcohol fuel blend.

    Additional Definitions:
    “Alcohol fuel blend” means fuel that contains at least 85% alcohol fuel by volume.
    “Biodiesel fuel blend” means fuel that contains at least 20% biodiesel fuel by volume.
    “Machinery and equipment” means industrial fixtures, devices, and support facilities and tangible personal property that becomes an ingredient or component thereof, including repair parts and replacement parts that are integral and necessary for the delivery of biodiesel or alcohol fuel blends into the fuel tank of a motor vehicle.

    References: RCW 82.08 and 82.12

    Expiration Date: July 1, 2009

    National Biodiesel Board

    The National Biodiesel Board, a Soy focused biodiesel trade organization, has made the Federal biodiesel tax incentive priority #1. They believe the political muscle is there, but legislative traffic is at a stand still during this election year. The proposed incentives would mean: A one penny ($.01) per percentage point of biodiesel blended with PetroDiesel. (i.e. .20 for b20, 1.00 for b100). We should see this hit consumers by early 06. This would put b20 at same price as petrodiesel, and b100 around premium gas price. If this comes together, combined with local and state incentives- we are looking at price competitive with regular gas, possibly cheaper. Get ready for hyper-growth.

    Additional info: National Biodiesel Board


    There are now two options for wholesale biodiesel in Puget Sound region:

    1. Pacific Functional Fluids has product from World Energy
    2. Pacific Northwest Energy is selling West Central Soy (SoyPower)

    Both are coming in on rail from Iowa. Rail is adding approx $.28/gallon to b100 costs in WA. Yikes! Also, World Energy seems to be a broker as well, sourcing biodiesel all over North America. While West Central Soy is a producer. We need a quality WA grown/produced product available.

    Tuesday, September 21, 2004

    Four Ways to Pick a Winning Product

    From HBS Working Knowledge:

    "The four dimensions fall into two categories, purchase motivators and purchase barriers. The new product has to excel at:

    1. Providing high purchase motivators
      A. It must be less expensive than existing products (lower price).
      B. It must provide better features than existing products (greater benefits).

    2. Eliminating purchase barriers
      A. It must not have any switching or adoption costs (easy to use).
      B. It must be readily available (easy to buy)."
    1. Purchase Motivators:
    A. More expensive (at the pump anyway, indirectly much cheaper)
    B. Better mpg, enviro benefits, USA made, feel good factor?

    2. Purchase barriers:
    A. Zero switch costs if you own a diesel vehicle, otherwise need a new car.
    B. Currently hard to find

    Motivators: Consumers have demonstrated a willingness to pay a premium for products across the board, if the motivation is there. Will they do it in numbers for biodiesel? I know several folks pay for performance with high octane additives. Will less direct motivators- support USA jobs, clean environment, higher mpg vs. gas, or geo-political (terrorism, war), prove to motivate? We are accustomed to cheap gas. Wildcard: "Made in USA" factor. This motivator waxes and wanes, but has tremendous power. See anti-Japanese car buying sentiment circa 77-85. My thinking: Another large domestic terrorist attack and we'll see this motivator move off the charts. If biodiesel was widely available on Sept 12, 2001, would consumers have embraced a fuel with zero profit flowing into Middle East? Other wild card is gas price. I'm not betting on sustained high gas price ($2.75+) anytime soon.

    Barriers: Diesel auto supply barrier is shrinking. DaimlerChrysler (e300, Jeep liberty), and VW are betting on diesel passenger cars in the US. Trucks are available now. Fleet use is happening, particularly in Gov't. Biodiesel availability remains a barrier, yet within reach.


    Winning the Oil Endgame

    Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) today released Winning the Oil Endgame: Innovation for Profits, Jobs, and Security, a Pentagon-cofunded blueprint for making the United States oil-free.

    "A fuel-efficient military could save tens of billions of dollars a year," said Lovins, who served on a Pentagon task force studying this issue. "As our nation stops needing oil, think of the possibilities of being able to treat oil-rich countries the same as nations that don't own a drop. Imagine, too, our moral clarity if other countries no longer assume everything the United States does is about oil."
    The RMI report says that by 2015, more efficient vehicles, buildings, and factories will turn oil companies into broad-based energy companies that embrace biofuels as a new product line.

    Read more or download the full report.

    Monday, September 20, 2004

    Medici Effect

    The Medici Effect, from

    British biodiesel IPOs

    Two British biodiesel producers have gone public this summer. Thanks to Green Car Congress for the link.

    Hello World

    Hello World