Energy CEO Wants Ethanol Credit Phase-Out

July 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

A POET ethanol plant in Portland, Ind.

A POET ethanol plant in Portland, Ind.

Growth Energy (POET), the world’s largest producer of ethanol, called today (July 15) for the redirection and eventual phasing out of government support for ethanol in return for a level playing field.

Jeff Broin, CEO for the Sioux Falls, S.D.-based firm, voiced support for Fueling Freedom Plan with the following comments:

POET has been producing ethanol for more than two decades. And for most of that time, we did it without a renewable fuel standard.

The reason we were able to succeed and the reason the ethanol industry exists today is largely because our country’s leaders saw the need to lessen our dependence on foreign oil so they shaped the tax code to achieve that goal. The tax credit allowed us to compete against a heavily entrenched oil industry.

Because of that tax credit, thousands of corn farmers were willing to take a risk and invest in ethanol plants. They were soon joined by main street investors and ethanol grew to be the one renewable energy source that is making a significant difference. Today, the U.S. ethanol industry produces more energy for America’s motorists than Saudi Arabia.

However, I believe the time has come to transition to an open market where consumers can choose their fuel. With a blender pump in every neighborhood and a flex fuel vehicle in every garage, ethanol can compete against oil without the tax incentive.

Ethanol is already competitive with gasoline. For most of this year, it has been 50 to 80 cents below the cost of gasoline and is saving money for consumers at the pump. In an open market, consumers would be able to save more money by increasing their use of ethanol, and we believe that they would.

As we transition toward an open market an important exception must be made for cellulosic ethanol. POET has spent many years and millions of dollars developing cellulosic ethanol and we have plans to break ground on a commercial scale plant later this year. Once cellulosic ethanol is available, it will open vast new opportunities to turn cellulose into ethanol in all 50 states.

But we’re not there yet. Due to the complexity of the process and the infancy of the industry, policy makers need to approve a long-term extension of the cellulosic tax credit. Over time, as the technology matures, it is our hope that cellulosic ethanol will be able to compete with gasoline as well.

I got into this business because I believe that ethanol is a superior product. It’s better for our vehicles. It’s better for our rural communities. It’s better for our country. And it’s better for our environment. The message that I want to make clear today is that if these infrastructure investments are made, the tax credit could fade away.

About POET

POET, the largest ethanol producer in the world, is a leader in biorefining through its efficient, vertically integrated approach to production. The 22-year-old company produces more than 1.6 billion gallons of ethanol annually from 26 production facilities nationwide. POET recently started up a pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol plant, which uses corn cobs as feedstock, and will commercialize the process in Emmetsburg, Iowa.

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