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Come up with questions for the governor's town hall meeting!

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I thought that Colorado residents did not like Texans and vice versa

 

Sure we like Texans, they are fun to play with --- see battle of La Glorieta Pass, and the now defunct, Colorado Texas Tomato Wars.

 

Taylor Adams began the Tomato Wars in 1982 as a protest against Texans in Colorado who constantly try to change the environment of the state. Legend has it that in 1982, when Adams was still the owner of the Black Wolf Inn at Twin Lakes, a woman from Dallas, while gazing upon Mt Elbert, said: "This is a pretty area. Its a shame nobody's done anything with it." This may have been the comment which inspired the battle cry: "Keep Colorado beautiful: put a Texan on a bus."

The tomato war contest is held in September. The battle zone varies from year to year. The rules are simple: There is an army consisting of a captain, 9 soldiers and an M.P. The soldiers carry their ammunition in plastic grocery bags strapped to their waists. The bugle sounds at noon and the Colorado soldiers charge the Texans, who usually retreat into their fort (known as the Tomalamo) and defend their fort by throwing tomatoes at a rapid pace. Soldiers hit above the torso by a tomato are considered dead and must leave the battlefield and watch from the sidelines. Although the Colorado armies often run out of ammunition, they ultimately surround the Texans fort and bring down the Lone Star flag. The process usually takes about 2 hours. After Saturdays battle, there is a shoot out on Sunday among the winning contestants.

Some of the best strategies have included a Texan arriving by helicopter, a Coloradoan arriving by parachute and a peace march held by a dissenting army, holding signs such as "Hell No We Won't Throw" and spouting slogans that tomatoes should be used for other uses, such as bloody marys. The best strategy involved an attractive Texas female who began to undress within sight of advancing male Colorado warriors. The Coloradoans were caught off guard and ambushed.

 

Its all in good fun, we enjoy razzing each other, and they spend lots of good money in the high country going hunting and skiing.

 

Larry

 

 

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Coloradoans don't like drunk Texans shooting at anything that moves and calling it "hunting" :D.

 

I need to say that this meeting went beyond my expectations. There was a "light yet serious" tone to the meeting, but it was very cordial and open. It wasn't "faked" like they were trying to appease someone or something. Focus was on getting biofuels to grow. I came away with good feelings and look forward to next month's meeting. It felt more like a meeting of the minds instead of a court proceeding ;).

 

The meeting today went very well. I mostly observed the happenings and made contacts. The steering committee is made up almost entirely of oil folks, believe it or not. They're open to alternative fuels, far beyond my expectations. They want their piece of the pie, though. That's completely understandable. Butanol could flow through the pipelines but ethanol can't. Biodiesel can't either, and other distribution problems still exist. The meeting was only as formal as it had to be, really. That's what awed me the most. C2B2's affiliates are still a good resource for information, but apparently they're so overloaded with work it's hard to get a hold of anyone. That avenue remains unexplored for me. Two key people were absent that I needed to talk to, but I'll be there next month.

 

An E20 standard I didn't get to ask about. Another member was working on a blender pump setup that is still in the works, though. The good news for blender pumps is that the same tax breaks extend to those facilities here in Colorado. Once the E85 tanks are in ground, they can use whatever certified pump they choose on top. The credits are more for the tanks than the pumps. That's the impression I got, anyway. Blender pumps themselves are about $25,000 and a little finnicky to program. Total program costs for converted stations really do run about $125k-$150k. A blender pump is just a different style of pump. They have a blending capability, but it's difficult to dial in.

 

This is a story I think most of you will like. There was a gentleman there who has an E85 fuel station in Greeley, I believe. He was getting mixed messages from ConocoPhillips about E85. He was told he could install it under the canopy and everything was fine, so he did. 3 months later, they came back to him with a different story. Now, he can sell it under the canopy, but can't advertise it on the fuel price signs for the station (spreader?). I told him about the RFS renewal bill going through the Senate with those canopy rules attached and then the Conoco rep jumped in with her explanation. They basically do not want non-Conoco products listed on a Conoco price sign, since E85 is blended somewhere else. She was very accomodating to his concerns, believe it or not. I wasn't trying to raise their hackles or anything, but it got them talking. (Oops?)

 

I sat next to a gentleman from GM and chatted briefly about FFV's. I asked him some specific engineering type questions, and he couldn't really answer them. He stated the line we've heard before about long term materials compatability with ethanol. The guy who's there for those kinds of questions was actually absent. It's another reason I want to go back next month. The tech guy and the chairman weren't there.

 

They're completely for conversions and intermediate blend usage. The problem is the EPA. Fuel standards are still being worked out. I told them about Subarus taking 30% blends in stock form and also passing emissions with it and Brazil's 20% blend. It's in the minutes for next meeting to discuss those intermediate blends further. There was also a bright spot concerning "conversions". E85 dedicated cars are looked at more favorably on this level than FFVs. It's a good news bad news thing. For them, they're all for seeing more conversions, tuning, and inventiveness. However, the EPA still has to approve everything. If Colorado approves my E85 car, but the EPA didn't approve it first, then they get sued. The reps are excited to see new technology, but the shadow of the EPA looms large. They really liked the idea of using 100% factory parts for a conversions and probably even more interested in factory tolerances for the intermediate blends. The issue with factory warranties is that nothing is covered for the life of a car anyway. Somebody else called them on that and I kept my mouth shut. The GM rep reluctantly agreed. There is a sizeable chunk of the market to fill with intermediate blends, but the question is how. The fuel blends and the cars all have to pass EPA approval.

 

1.) I think Colorado can do a better job than CARB and CA, mostly because of the relatively clean slate and less bulk of their government system. Private interests are getting involved from the start.

 

2.) I found that EPA rule I was looking for, but lost it again. It states how emissions rules are fuel neutral as long as standards are met. The wording they used in this meeting was specific, not political and evasive or filibustering in the least. With conversions, I was told about parts being "spec'd" for the vehicle. When I told them I used factory parts in addition to parts "spec'd" for the car, they listened.

 

3.) We're all on to something with biofuel usage of all flavors (biodiesel, butanol, cellulosic, etc.). I compared it to a salad or a slurpee Bikes, lawnmowers, cars, boats...everything. I'm glad I live in Colorado and not California when it comes to being able to "do this right" and get off on the right foot.

 

There's logistics issues from every angle, but every angle appears fluid and workable on Colorado's state and private levels. Money is an issue, but a bit less of a bleak one than the logistics. Having the will of the people behind the biofuel push is what gives it it's strength. We're in the midst of a social and technological harmonization that does indeed rival the Industrial Revolution. I saw a level of cooperation today that I never thought possible with government. If anything, they need more people there! I saw hope, free will, and communication active today instead of beaurocratic wrangling and arguing. It was a round table affair and not a speaking hall engagement. People laughed and discussed, and no one screamed or argued. It's the mood of the affair that sticks with me the most.

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Sounds good!

 

I have been getting the impression for some time that the petroleum folks have been quietly positioning themselves to get their piece of the pie. They see the handwriting on the wall and realize that if they dig in too long and too hard they will get steamrolled. That explains some of the recent advertisements by the big players like Shell and BP touting how they are also investing in alternate energy sources. They just don't want to openly support ethanol and other bio-fuels until they figure out their play in the market, or they will be playing catchup with the folks that are already invested in it. I would be very surprised if some of their billions of dollars in windfall income from the big rack up in oil prices is not getting quietly back-doored into the bio-fuels markets.

 

I think like any large company they just don't want to play their hand too soon and they want to quietly get positioned so they can back the winner of the contests.

 

I think the same thing is going on with the government and the EPA is beginning to sweat a bit and is trying to figure out a face saving way to "discover" there is another way to regulate emissions, but the institutional inertia will make for a very slow U turn I suspect.

 

My impression is that they are quietly ignoring much of the conversion activities because they have no way or controlling it, and are afraid if they come down too hard they could end up getting "reorganized" if the wrong power group gets elected this next presidental/congressional election cycle. All the major candidates are jumping on the alternative fuels bandwagon.

 

Thanks for the summary report Gary, glad to hear it turned out well!

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Good job GT.

On blenders-- setting the blend is simple and accurate from 10% to 90% in 1% increments in a Gilbarco. However- I equipped my guys with the equipment to pull a H20 phase separation test to insure the pump tech does not program the blend upside down- this would be an easy mistake. Example- 90/10 instead of 10/90--a h20 test quickly confirms this. The State has pulled approx. 40-50 samples from our blenders over the last 2 years and as long as the sample is drawn after hose flush and part of a gallon or more larger sample they are always dead on. The flush is important due to the small volume in the hose and piping after the meter. The larger sample is necessary because the alcohol meter and gas meter alternate cycles. States usually allow a 1% swing anyway.

 

For the jobber and retailer- they will likely be genuine in their interest. Major oil may also be but it will be interesting at what gross margin they will be satisfied with.

 

 

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Excellent report GT ..

 

Though I am not impressed with working solutions allowing the Oil Companies a piece of the ethanol pie (than they already have)..my view is these NEED to be completely separate Industries .

 

It comes back to having a competitive marketplace for fuels..and eliminating the monopoly and any collusive atomosphere between the Industries .

 

GM.. "They really liked the idea of using 100% factory parts for a conversions ......"  I suppose they look at it as simply another revenue source.

 

Naturally they approve of 100% Factory parts to be used in conversions..so does that mean they would fight any aftermarket parts ? 

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No no no...The committee liked the sound of using 100% factory parts. GM didn't say anything about it.

 

To do a conversion this way to try and satisfy all their regs is a method they've never seen. No one has ever "recombined stock parts" and given them back something working this way. A retune with factory parts seems to have some legitimacy to it, even despite claims of tampering by the EPA. Use "parts spec'd for the car" is was what the committee told me as an interpretation of the EPA's bylaws, and that is what I did. If anything, we'll do more homework on the issue. If $10,000 is all the EPA wants to verify this as a workable method, that price tag looks doable. But, it's a "methodology" and not a kit. How would you verify that, other than calling it tampering and hoping it goes away?

 

I still think I'm working within the boundaries of the law. How could something work this marvellous on accident with a factory's own parts? I don't think it's an accident or a conspiracy. But reading the laws and seeing things work THIS well with factory parts as a dedicated E85 car, makes me think this was somehow planned and someone on the outside just had to put it together. How does it all fit so well already? I certainly didn't plan it like this, that's for sure.

 

BTW, after watching yesterday's meeting, I'm convinced big oil isn't an "enemy". Dig hard enough and you see those profits going back into biofuel development. Bluntly, how else would expect them to pay for it? To see what I did yesterday, they are approaching it a little begrudgingly almost like a kid told to clean his room. I'm glad I'm not the one in charge of billions of dollars in retooling and engineering costs. I'd be a little ornery at the bargaining table, too.

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BTW, after watching yesterday's meeting, I'm convinced big oil isn't an "enemy". Dig hard enough and you see those profits going back into biofuel development.

 

As clear as I can put it..I dont want Oil having anything to do with biofuels..   

 

Once again ..Seperate Industiries competing that is how the consumer wins..thats my only concern ..I dont give a ratts tit how much the Oil compnies are developing biofuels

 

 

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GT- all the money that majors put into alt fuels is yet a tiny portion of their R & D. It may be for green washing or it may be real effort to maintain their dominant position for the long run. In the later case- I still say watch their gross margins. Would you rather operate your refinery at full tilt and receive $13/ barrel gross ($0.31/ gal) or slow it/ idle it and watch your fixed costs eat you alive while you go off on a heavy alt fuels binge? The example you stated about the station owner not being able to post a price is ONE of the barely noticeable but effective inhibitors available under the branding restrictions. I hope you are right GT but I was in their industry for 20 years and see this just as bad today-- smiles and talk is cheap.

 

Back on blenders--- I was thinking last night about their comments about difficulty in setting up a blender and after my last post it hit me where they are coming from: Older blend systems relied on sizing an orfice to do the blend-- this is likely what was on the mind of the person who make the comment. Modern blend pumps meter each stream and open and close valves per computerized instruction to make sure it is accurate and it only takes a pump tech less than 5 minutes to reprogram the blend for an entire dispenser.

Such a dispenser is less than $20,000 brand new in a 3 hose/ side x 2 side setup with full CRIND. No dispenser today is UL certified in any form- single product, MPD, or blender. Once a certified dispenser is finally made- I expect them to cost more in any form due to fact that a few (very few) components will be different, they will initially be specialty items, and the pump manufacturers will be looking to recover their certification costs.

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