August 23, 2010 - nonethanol gasoline gone from Maine; loss of biofuel tax credit

Monday, August 23, 2010

In Maine, regulatory and market changes have led to the end of nonethanol gasoline's availability.  While many vehicle engines can run on gasoline cut with ethanol like E10 (10% ethanol, 90% gasoline), certain engines like aircraft cannot handle the ethanol mix.  Ethanol-gasoline mixes tend to absorb water (and then burn poorly), and can break down fiberglass fuel tanks and lines.  Federal and state policies have required ethanol to be added to gasoline for a variety of reasons including economic support for domestic agrifuels production and the need for an alternative to toxic MTBE as a fuel oxygenator.

Want proof that regulatory uncertainty places a chilling effect on businesses?  Here's a story from Vermont about how the loss of a biofuel production tax credit has led to the closing of a business, placing state money at risk.  Biocardel Vermont LLC, located in Swanton, Vermont, had been pitched as being able to produce up to 8 million gallons of biodiesel a year from soybean and other oils.    Biocardel had been eligible for a tax credit of $1 per gallon produced, and had received $645,000 in low-interest loans from the Vermont Economic Development Authority.  Vermont also gave Biocardel tax credits potentially worth up to $534,522 if it completed its buildout and commenced full hiring and production.  With the loss of the federal tax credit, the operation has now closed.

Massachusetts continues to deal with issues of how to site wind turbines.  This article describes the tensions between those who want merchant-scale wind power in Massachusetts, and those who do not want to see that kind of development.  Overlaid onto this mix, Governor Deval Patrick has pushed a bill through the state legislature to streamline the permitting process for wind projects.

Want to see tidal power generation in action?  Get yourself to Eastport, Maine.  Tomorrow, dignitaries will celebrate Ocean Renewable Power Company's announcement that its 60-kilowatt turbine-generator has successfully produced commercially marketable electricity.  ORPC will us the 60 kW turbine-generator for a 60-day demonstration project at the Coast Guard's Eastport Station, and plans install a grid-tied 150 kW system next year.

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