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Energy Star on the Prairie POET Biorefining – Ashton celebrates 10 years of creating and conserving energy

EZ A no-hassle approach to being a part of the future of ethanol

Gate Keepers The lab team ensures the quality of each product leaving the biorefinery Spring 2014


INNOVATION + At POET, we cultivate solutions. Our spirit of innovation made us a global leader in ethanol production, and now we’re producing even more efficient biofuels, foods, feeds and natural alternatives to petrochemicals.

Opportunity is everywhere, if you know where to look.

contents FEATURES



by Lori Weaver As retailers begin to offer E15 to consumers, this small crack in the blend wall will soon grow.



by Darrell Boone As it celebrates its tenth anniversary, POET Biorefining – Ashton, Iowa is winning awards and conserving energy in northwest Iowa.



by Kayla Schlechter The lab team members at POET ensure the quality of the fuel, feed and co-products that leave each biorefinery.

30 Visit for the latest news, career opportunities and plant profiles. Contents photos by Greg Latza


by Steve Lange POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels’ collection of biomass gives farmers a no-hassle approach to being a part of the future of ethanol.



by Lori Weaver

contents COLUMNS

04 IN SIGHT by Jeff Broin



P / 605.965.2200 F / 605.965.2203






by Steve Lange

In the spirit of its continued commitment to being good stewards of the environment, POET is proud to produce Vital using 100% recycled paper, with eco-friendly soy-based ink.




POET, LLC 4615 North Lewis Avenue Sioux Falls, SD 57104

by Jeff Lautt

by Marcus Ludtke




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COPYRIGHT Vital is published quarterly by POET, LLC and other individuals or entities. All materials within are subject to copyrights owned by POET. Any reproduction of all or part of any document found in Vital is expressly prohibited, unless POET or the copyright owner of the material has expressly granted its prior written consent to so reproduce, retransmit or republish the material. All other rights reserved. For questions, contact the POET legal department at 605.965.2200. The opinions and statements expressed by content contributors and advertisers in Vital are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of POET. Neither POET nor its third-party content providers shall be liable for any inaccuracies contained within Vital, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. ©2014 POET, LLC. All rights reserved. Publication Design & Layout: Cassie Medema

HIGHER YIELD. BETTER RETURNS. Together, we maximize the potential of biofuel. We work with our customers to develop the most advanced new technologies and solutions in the industry. As a true partner, we seek to maximize the potential of biofuel. For more information, visit

Novozymes is the world leader in bioinnovation. Together with customers across a broad array of industries we create tomorrow’s industrial biosolutions, improving our customers’ business and the use of our planet’s resources. Read more at

© Novozymes A/S · 2013-14677-02

IN SIGHT by Jeff Broin, Executive Chairman and Founder of POET

24 years after the Clean Air Act was enacted … 9 years after we first heard about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)… 5 years after Growth Energy submitted the E15 Green Jobs Waiver … The first domino has fallen in overcoming the ethanol blend wall. When successful major gasoline retailer, MAPCO Express, announced their decision to offer E15 to consumers, a new era for fuel began. This era will finally give consumers the power to choose their fuel blend. The path to gaining greater market access for homegrown ethanol has not been short or easy. And, let me assure you, this is only just the beginning. With MAPCO’s announcement, the first domino fell. The gasoline blend containing 15 percent ethanol will offer consumers a more affordable and higher octane fuel than regular unleaded gasoline. As motorists save money and learn about the reliability and high performance aspects of E15, I believe retailers across the country will quickly adopt E15 and long term, look to even higher blends of ethanol. But, we’re not just going to sit back and wait for retailers to realize this. POET and Growth Energy are working hard to get the truth to the public and educating retailers on the benefits of E15 for their market and their consumers. A big part of this education can be found on the tracks of one of the most popular sports in America.





Already, NASCAR has run more than five million miles on Sunoco Green E15, a fuel blend with 15 percent ethanol. Without fail, this fuel blend has lived up to the challenge in this high performance arena. We know that this blend of fuel is not only good for racecar drivers, but it’s good for motorists, retailers, farmers, the environment and our energy security. It’s only a matter of time before many more dominoes will fall. As retailers get on board with E15, the growth will create new demand for the ethanol industry and America’s farmers. It will also open markets for cellulosic ethanol. And, that’s just here in the U.S. It’s even bigger than that. As ethanol grows, so does agriculture. Growing demand for corn helps keeps prices at a sustainable level for farmers. This incentivizes farmers in the U.S. and throughout the world. It is creating opportunities for developing countries to produce their own crops at a profit – for food and fuel. In the last eight years, Ethiopia’s GDP is up more than five times what it had been for more than 30 years of stagnation mostly due to commodity prices. This new era for ethanol will also help to clean our air and decrease our reliance on foreign oil. It’s an era that we can be proud of and will improve the world for our kids and grandkids. It has taken the time and effort of many to get the ethanol market to where it is today. And it will take the collective efforts of ethanol and agriculture to reach its full potential. And I can assure you, we won’t rest until the last domino has fallen.

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We’re in the People Business At POET, we produce fuel. We also produce feed. We produce corn oil, liquefied carbon dioxide, fiber and more. Our biorefinery model continues to evolve into a more diverse range of products, and as we grow, so does our reach in each American’s life. That reach is one of the most humbling and exciting things about working at POET. Today, more than ever before, we are in the “people business,” and the importance of what we do for our nation and the world is what keeps me going each day. As CEO, I keep in mind that POET has the honor to impact many different stakeholders. They include

• Team members • Customers/end-users • Shareholders • Board members • Farmers • Communities • Business partners

All these groups have an important role to play in making POET a success. We have more than 1,600 team members who make our business go each day. POET is no more and no less than the people who comprise it, and as such it is important that we choose the right people to be on our team and give them the tools they need to succeed. We work hard to stay on top of the needs of all our team members, and a recent company-wide engagement survey showed us that we are above average in team member satisfaction. That’s not to say there isn’t room to improve, so we continue to take results such as these and work to implement strategies to improve the work experience at POET. Of course the end user of our products is another important group. We continue to grow the business and reach more end users through efforts such as our corn oil marketing and export work and new markets such as fiber. POET is focused on continued growth to expand access to renewable products for people around the world. The third group, shareholders, is in this with us, and we focus on creating value for them and effectively communicating the direction of our business and the markets in which it operates. Our board members comprise a group that helps determine the direction of each plant within the





larger POET and industry efforts. We work with board members to advance our mission, and we leverage their expertise often. Next is farmers, a group of people who helped birth this industry and who continue to keep it vibrant by employing world-leading farming practices that feed our biorefineries while still feeding the world. There is an incredible synergy between the POET plants and the farmers who provide our feedstock, and together we continue to advance both agriculture and biofuels technology to meet the needs of society and the land. Then there are the communities where POET resides. These plant communities have always been valuable partners in making our business successful, and I know that they value the jobs and economic boost provided by new rural business. The impact that ethanol has had on rural America is one of the greatest successes for our industry. Whether through charity endeavors, assistance for local schools or special events, such as the Lifelight Christian music festival in South Dakota, we always look for opportunities to give back to the communities. Finally, I always keep in mind the important relationship we maintain with other businesses, whether it is equipment providers, enzyme manufacturers or collaborations such as the POET-DSM joint venture to commercialize cellulosic ethanol or our industry work with Growth Energy. Ours is not a business that can operate in a vacuum, and staying engaged with the larger business community is important. In any one day, our stakeholders come to the forefront of my mind. In producing renewable fuel and renewable products, POET touches so many people. And in turn, each of those people has an important role to play in making POET successful. Whether you are an ethanol producer, a consumer, a shareholder, a board member, a farmer, a community member or part of a complementary business, your support of POET and the ethanol industry keeps us strong. Thank you for what you have done, and please stay active in your support. Together we’ll continue to change the world.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY GROWTH ENERGY. From advocating for ethanol on Capitol Hill, to validating higher ethanol blends through NASCAR®, to calling out Big Oil with a national television campaign, Growth Energy is there for the producers and supporters of the ethanol industry. We know we’re in a battle, but we’re ready for the fight.

Learn more at

Austin Dillon and Austin Dillon’s autograph are trademarks of Austin Dillon. All trademarks and the likeness of the No. 39 racecar are used under license from their owners. NASCARh is a registered trademark of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc.



Renewable Fuels




a gas price spike that would

GrowthEnergy conference:

POET founder Broin at @

RFS RVO reduction would cause

Mapco e15 adoption is a

force consumers to pay $6.8-

significant crack in the blend

$11.3 billion more at the pump in

wall. #ethanol #Biofuels

’14. #EthanolFacts


Growth Energy


American Ethanol



decade, we could be energy

weekend with 3 awards: Coors

@austindillon3 also finished the

@GeneralClark: “In less than a

Light Pole Award, Sherwin-

independent.” #2014ELC

Williams Fastest Lap, and




Rachel Gantz

Sunoco Rookie of the Race!


Luke Rockhold



.@GinaEPA tells reporters she

@austindillon3 continues to

“certainly heard from folks that

impress taking the poll at

maybe we didn’t get this quite

Daytona. 2014 team

right” on #RFS proposal.

@AmericanEthanol is taking over. #TeamAmericanEthanol




conference discussing how

we need ethanol, that should tell

to make our benefits visible. #Cellulosic #ethanol = clean jobs. #Oil is opposite.



Robert White


Paul Tewes at @GrowthEnergy




When T. Boone Pickens says you something


South Dakota Corn @sdcorn

Thanks to the hundreds of SD farmers & ethanol advocates who stepped up to the plate & submitted comments to the @EPA in support of the #RFS


Joost Dubois @joostdubois

On filing @DSM’s comments to #EPA’s proposed rule on the #RenewableFuelsStandard 2014, 15,501 parties had preceded. #notwellreceived #RFS


Growth Energy @GrowthEnergy

The #RFS comment period has officially closed. Thank you to everyone who took the time to defend our nation’s most successful fuel!


Mindy LarsenPoldberg @cornpolitics

#HearinginTheHeartland is on speaker number 54 and has entered hour number seven. Score so far: ethanol (retain full RFS) 53, anti-ethanol: 1.


Iowa RFA @iowafuel

@TerryBranstad points out how #ethanol critics like to ignore benefits of #DDGS to Midwest #livestock producers. #DefendRFS

Twitter is a forum for thousands of conversations taking place in 140-character comments, with participants from all over the world. People or organizations are represented by user names such as @ethanolbypoet. The topic of conversation is often highlighted with a hashtag (#). This is a sampling of what’s being said about energy and biofuels. The comments do not necessarily represent the opinions of POET, LLC. WWW.VITALBYPOET.COM



2/27 “President Obama, if you seek to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create jobs here in the U.S. that cannot be outsourced and strengthen the rural economy, and, if you truly want cleaner air, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, a better environment for our children and lower gas prices for American consumers, tear down this blend wall!” - Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, addressing attendees at the fifth annual Executive Leadership Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.



“Homegrown biofuels like American Ethanol have stepped up to help our nation’s economy. NASCAR® drivers have run more than 5 million competitive miles on Sunoco® Green E15™ and I know we will reach even more milestones together. I am proud to wear the American Ethanol colors in NASCAR and I hope I can bring them to Victory Lane in the NASCAR Spring Cup Series™ in 2014.” - NASCAR Driver Austin Dillon in an announcement touting an enhanced partnership between American Ethanol and Richard Childress Racing for the 2014 NASCAR season.

“Any reduction in this target would undermine the regulatory predictability of the RFS and investment in advanced biofuels, including cellulosic biofuels, as explained in detail in these comments. EPA has in the past made significant changes to proposed rules that are significantly flawed, and it needs to do so in this rulemaking.” - POET in submitted Renewable Volume Obligation comments to the EPA.

From issues relating to government policies, to infrastructure and opinion pieces, the ethanol industry has much to be reported on. Here is a representation of the past few months of news coverage. The comments do not necessarily represent the opinions of POET, LLC.





1/29 “We don’t need to be importing more oil form Iran, Venezuela and Nigeria. We don’t need to throw a wrench into the economies of middle America at a time when many are struggling to find sustainable growth.” - Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and former Representative Jim Nussle in an op-ed to The Hill in defense of the Renewable Fuel Standard.



“As a father, my youngest son served as a combat soldier in the Middle East, so my desires for the success of the RFS run deep. My military background causes me strong concern and conviction about this country’s dependence on foreign oil and the young men and women who daily sacrifice for the security of those foreign oil reserves.” - William Howell, General Manager of POET Biorefining – Coon Rapids, testifying at a public hearing organized by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. All seven Iowa POET General Managers participated and testified about the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard.


“The significant reduction in renewable volume obligations under this proposed rule could destabilize the renewable fuel industry and send the wrong message to investors. This risks jobs and threatens the development of advanced and cellulosic biofuels that bring higher-level ethanol and biodiesel blends to consumers. Seventy-five percent of the current vehicle fleet is approved to operate on E15.” - 30 members of Congress in a bipartisan letter led by Reps. Kristi Noem (SD-AL) and Cheri Bustos (IL-17) to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

“MAPCO prides itself in being an innovative retailer that provides outstanding value to its customers. We have a long track record of offering new products to our customers and E15 fits in nicely with our current product line up. Ethanol based fuels have been a lower per gallon cost alternative over the past few years and this should allow us to offer our customers additional fuel options.” - Dan Gordon, MAPCO’s Vice President of Business Development, in an announcement detailing MAPCO’s goal to offer E15 in 100 megastores.

1/16 “We must move forward, not backward when it comes to developing alternatives to fossil fuels and foreign oil. We know firsthand that the RFS and biofuels have created jobs that cannot be outsourced, which have helped ensure a robust rural America.” - Eric and Mary Woodford, owners of Woodford Equipment in Emmetsburg, IA, in an Emmetsburg Democrat/Reporter column defending the Renewable Fuel Standard.




As retailers begin to offer E15 to consumers, this small crack in the blend wall will soon grow. by Lori Weaver





With the first major retail players starting to offer consumers the choice of lower-cost E15 blended fuel, a much-anticipated domino effect appears already under way. And it looks to be a game changer.

How much of a game changer? Moving to 15 percent ethanol is expected to lessen the country’s dependence on foreign oil imports to the tune of seven billion gallons annually. That’s significant when you consider the U.S. pumps around $300 billion each year into foreign countries for oil. Instead, the move to E15 will mean $24.4 billion injected into the U.S. economy.

The move also has the potential to create about 136,000 new jobs, all while lowering prices at the pump and reducing the load on the environment caused by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In fact, ethanol industry advocacy group, Growth Energy, estimates that as much as 8 million metric tons of GHG could be removed from the air each year.

The Blend Wall After a long and arduous process, the ethanol industry’s push to break through the blend wall – the artificial limit on the ethanol market – appears to be scoring a win, both for the industry and consumers. In January, Tennessee-based convenience store operator MAPCO Express, Inc. announced it would begin offering E15 at new sites as well as select existing MAPCO mega store locations. In making the announcement, Dan Gordon, who serves as Vice President of Business Development

for MAPCO, pointed to the company’s culture of innovation, setting the stage for the arrival of E15 fuels. “Ethanol-based fuels have been a lower-per-gallon cost alternative over the past few years and this should allow us to offer our customers additional fuel options,” he added. If everything goes according to plan, MAPCO hopes to have 100 of its stores offering E15. “The MAPCO announcement clearly indicates retailers are starting to see the potential of E15 as a marketing tool that helps generate value for their business. Prior to MAPCO, additional momentum was building around Murphy and Minnoco both announcing they are offering E15,” says Mike O’Brien, Growth Energy’s Vice President of Market Development.

Retailers Onboard In October, independent stations in the Twin Cities area announced their intent to cut ties with major oil companies and begin selling E15 fuel under the brand Minnoco, leading to aggressive pricing at 20 cents less than regular 87 octane. Minnoco’s goal is to add 100



stations to the brand within five years. Similar announcements of E15 availability have come from Murphy USA, which began offering E15 in Arkansas and has plans to expand availability throughout the Midwest, and American Freedom Energy, which became the first retailer to offer E15 in Ohio. “Where E15 is available today, consumers are beginning to realize they can purchase a lower cost fuel that offers better octane and performance. E15 retailers are capturing more business and retailers that don’t currently offer E15 are starting to show more interest than they did a year ago,” O’Brien adds. “E15 is beginning to

show that it benefits consumers, retailers and the ethanol industry.” In December, Growth Energy announced results of a retailer survey showing E15 was helping drive additional sales for retailers and there were no issues with the fuel.

Go-Ahead on E15 The battle to provide consumers with the option of E15 at the pump has been long-fought. For years, federal regulations mandated all fuel be at least 90 percent gasoline, despite two-thirds

being derived from imported oil. The mandate put a stranglehold on advancements for ethanol and other biofuels. Ultimately, restricting ethanol to 10 percent of blended fuel flew in the face of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) enacted with the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act.

April 21, 2009 EPA puts wavier out for notice March 6, 2009 Growth Energy files E15 waiver





and comment

January 21, 2011 EPA announces partial wavier approving E15 for Model Year 2001 and newer vehicles October 13, 2010 EPA announces partial wavier approving E15 for Model Year 2007 and newer vehicles, defers decision on 2001 and newer and denies for MY2000 and older

May 20, 2009 EPA extends comment period until December 2009

In March 2009, Growth Energy petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in hopes of accelerating adoption of domestically produced renewable fuels. The action, which cited scientific evidence overwhelmingly supportive of E15 as a fuel, asked EPA to raise the “blend wall” to allow for a 15-percent blend of ethanol in the fuel supply. The long-anticipated answer finally came in January 2011 when the EPA gave the go-ahead on E15, officially raising the blend wall to E15. The next step was for major convenience stores to begin realizing the benefits of E15 and offering it. “Without question, MAPCO’s announcement of 100 megastores is the first domino in what will be many coming in the next 12 to 24 months,” says Jeff Broin, POET Founder and Executive Chairman, and Growth Energy co-Chairman. “E15 will be the lowest cost fuel option at the pump for cars manufactured in 2001 and later. Once the station on one side of the street puts E15 in, they will have the lowest cost fuel option for 75 to 80 percent of the cars on the road today, which will certainly get the attention of other drivers on the street.”





Ethanol and Agriculture With commodity volumes expected to balloon worldwide, Broin says the move to E15 is extremely critical to the agriculture sector. If E15 didn’t come into play, plummeting prices would be devastating for rural economies. Broin says MAPCO’s announcement is a major step forward, not only because it puts E15 at 100 stores across a large geographical area that others will have to compete with, but because the announcement and press attention will force every major retailer to look more seriously at E15. Broin says there is no question this is the first true crack in the blend wall. “It will lead to a stream of retailers following suit and a major flow of ethanol in this nation.” There’s little doubt among ethanol advocates that the existing oil industry, which boasts a long tenure

influencing fuel regulations, has held E15 back for the last several years, as ethanol supporters were forced to deal with one hurdle after another. The fact that MAPCO is also a refiner is noteworthy. “It sends a strong message to Washington that refiners are moving to E15, negating the argument by oil companies that E15 fuel is not being marketed in the U.S.,” Broin explains. But don’t expect oil companies to give up too soon. Broin says without question, those opposing ethanol will do everything in their power to twist the facts and scare consumers away from what is essentially a better product. “We saw the same thing happen with E10. But I think over time, the lower cost will win out, along with it being a cleaner-burning, higheroctane fuel,” Broin adds. “It’s the premium fuel for 2001 and newer cars, offered at the best price. So, who wouldn’t want to buy that?”




Vital asked readers: Would you buy E15 if it were available in your area?





JEREMY SWEETEN, PERU, IND. Would you buy E15 if it were available in your area? I’d probably try it as long as it was competitive in price. I know that overall, ethanol helps bring down the price of gasoline, so I would think this might help a little more. I also like to support local farmers.



Would you buy E15 if it were available in your area?

Would you buy E15 if it were available in your area?

I really don’t know much about it. I’d consider trying it, but I’d like to learn more about it first.

If the price was right, I wouldn’t mind trying it. I’m open to trying new things.



Would you buy E15 if it were available in your area?

Would you buy E15 if it were available in your area?

The EPA didn’t wait until all the studies on the potential impacts of E15 on the environment vehicles were completed before approving it. In my opinion, this was negligent and shortsighted.

Anything that’s leaner, greener and less expensive is most definitely a better option to consider. An American-made product that is a cleaner choice for our environment and makes for a better running vehicle is always a big plus! For sure, lessening our dependence on foreign oil is a must for our country. I look forward to the option of buying E15 when it becomes available in Southeast Texas.



Energy Star ON THE


As it celebrates its tenth anniversary, POET Biorefining – Ashton is winning awards and conserving energy in by Darrell Boone | photos by Greg Latza northwest Iowa.





An axiom of corn ethanol plants is that you build them where the corn is. And in Osceola County, Iowa, there’s lots of it. “This is some of the best ground in the world for growing corn – dark, rich, flat, prairie soils,” says POET Biorefining – Ashton’s General Manager Ken Osmonson. But while there’s plenty of corn, people are relatively few. Ashton has 458 residents, and the whole of Osceola County has only 6,462. Although the western Corn Belt can be a great place to live and raise a family, it has its occasional drawback. Like when POET was getting ready to build a plant there in 2003 and was having a hard time getting sufficient electricity to power the 56-million gallon plant. “In rural America, infrastructure can sometimes be hard to come by,” recalls POET Biorefining –Ashton Chief Mechanical Operator, Mike Steichen, who started working there about a month before the plant opened in March of 2004. “So POET Plant Management and Design & Construction just decided to generate their own electricity.” What POET ingenuity came up with was a natural gas-fired turbine. The heat recovered from the turbine’s exhaust produces 56,000 pounds of steam per hour to support ethanol production. The combined heat and power (CHP) system, generates up to 7.2 megawatts of electricity and requires approximately 16 percent less fuel than typical onsite thermal generation and purchased electricity. Estimated CO2 savings are equivalent to removing the

annual emissions from 3,100 cars, or planting 34,900 trees. The plant does have a contract with the rural electric company to supply supplementary power and Steichen says it has been a good partnership. But he also says the turbine, which supplies the vast majority of power for the plant, is a real plus for all concerned. “It’s a very efficient system that cuts our costs of doing business,

with no real downside,” he says. “It’s a win for everybody – good for producing energy, good for the environment.”

Plant Recognized by EPA As a result of POET Biorefining – Ashton’s energy-saving ways, the plant was one of only two in the nation to receive the prestigious ENERGY STAR Combined Heat and Power Awards at the Fuel Ethanol Workshop in Nashville, Tenn. in June of 2008. “Winning the ENERGY STAR award was huge,” says Steichen, who farms, coaches multiple sports, and teaches religious education in his spare time. “I think the publicity

from it created a ‘teachable moment’ for people in the area. It helped them learn more about ethanol – not only how it works and how it’s good for the environment, but that it can also be produced in such an environmentally friendly and efficient manner.” As the plant readies itself to celebrate its tenth anniversary, both Steichen and Osmonson readily concede that as valuable as the plant’s turbine is, it can’t run a plant by itself. “We’ve got a great group of employees here,” says Osmonson. “They’re your typical rural, hardworking, reliable Midwesterners with a good work ethic, who gladly help others out when they need it.” Steichen concurs. “As I look back on my ten years here, I like the flexibility and diversity and working with the new technologies. But the first experience that comes to my mind is the great teamwork we’ve had. It really takes a great team effort to run a plant like this, and I’ve enjoyed the people. I’ve had a ball, absolutely loved it.”


L to R: Karey Julius, Nancy Dykstra

POET Biorefining – Ashton Lab Assistants Nancy Dykstra and Karey Julius have worked closely together ever since the plant opened its doors ten years ago. The two each say that much has changed during that time, but that they don’t mind the changes. Instead, they embrace them as a welcome challenge that adds variety to their jobs. One thing that hasn’t changed though, is their commitment to assuring the quality of the POET products that leave their plant. Recently they were recognized for their efforts when they received the top score for 2013 in lab proficiency testing among all 27 POET plants. The two were pleased to receive the honor.





“It was very nice to be recognized,” says Dykstra. “It was humbling,” says Julius. “We always try to do a good job here, but basically all of the POET plants do a great job, and when we won by a narrow margin, we knew we were in pretty good company.” Both gals also have active family lives off the job, and some things have changed there too in the past ten years. Both have blossomed as grandmothers – Julius, with her first grandson and Dykstra’s brood has grown by five for a total of eight grandchildren!

LESSONS FROM DESERT STORM A West Point grad, POET Biorefining – Ashton General Manager Ken Osmonson was a captain in the U.S. Army that liberated Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. While fighting tyranny in the Middle East, he also saw firsthand what was involved in getting oil from that region to America. “I saw the cost of protecting the international oil lanes – it took money and lots of it – and it made a definite impression on me,” he says. “All of us there knew we’d be back in Iraq at some point.” Those experiences are part of what helps him see value in what

he’s doing now. “Ethanol is definitely a viable fuel alternative that should be capitalized within our overall energy policy in the United States,” he says. On a side note, POET Biorefining – Cloverdale (Ind.) General Manager Dave Brooks is a Naval Academy graduate who also spent some time serving in the Middle East with the U.S. Navy. “We have a friendly rivalry and make a bet on the Army-Navy football game every year,” says Osmonson. “Unfortunately, my team has given Dave a lot to smile about lately.”

FROM PHILIPPINES TO ASHTON Most people would say Raquel Strouth has led an interesting life. She was born and raised in the Philippines, moved to Alaska, and married her husband David, who’s originally from Ashton. After David retired from his job with the state of Alaska, the couple moved back to Ashton, where David’s family is involved in a fifth-generation farming operation. Strouth says at first she found northwest Iowa to be something of a “culture shock,” but that now she was enjoying life in her new surroundings and at POET. “This is my first time to work in any type of manufacturing and I’m learning new things I’ve never experienced before,” says Strouth, who enjoys traveling with her husband during her free time. “It’s very interesting.”



MAKING OUR VOICE HEARD In January and February, supporters of the ethanol industry rallied to let the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) know just how much ethanol means to America. Over 300,000 comments were submitted to the EPA during a 60-day comment period regarding the Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Based on initial reviews, a majority of those comments were in support of ethanol.


WHAT WERE THE EPA’S PROPOSED CHANGES? On Nov. 15, 2013, the EPA released the proposed RVO under the RFS for 2014. These volumes represent the amount of renewable fuel that must be blended into the nation’s transportation fuel supply. The agency has proposed to significantly reduce the volumes Congress set by statute. EPA proposes to reduce the total renewable fuel volume of 18.15 billion gallons that the RFS calls for to 15.21 billion gallons. Within the total 15.21 billion gallons of renewable fuel, EPA has proposed to reduce the volume of advanced biofuels (fuels which must be at least 50 percent improvement to gasoline for greenhouse gas emissions) from 3.75 billion gallons to 2.2 billion. Within the advanced pool, EPA has proposed 17 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol and 1.28 billion gallons

RENEWABLE FUEL that must be

Lowering volumes also has an impact on grain-based ethanol. In 2013, 13.8 billion gallons of grain-based ethanol was blended into the fuel


supply. The 2014 RVO proposal lowers this target to 13.01 billion gallons,

into the

than the original RVO target of 14.4 billion gallons. EPA’s proposals would


of bio-based diesel.




which is not only lower than the previous year, but substantially lower leave room for the possibility of 263 million gallons of imported ethanol in the advanced pool. It is important to remember that this is just EPA’s proposal. Growth Energy and Fuels America joined forces to make sure that the EPA was clear on the repercussions that would come out of this change.

ETHANOL INDUSTRY STEPS UP TO THE PLATE Growth Energy and Fuels America weren’t the only ones who supported the RFS. POET plants rallied their communities, engaging investors, producers and team members. POET’s Iowa general managers testified in Governor Branstad’s RFS field hearing while General Managers Steve Pittman (Portland, IN), Mark Borer (Leipsic, Ohio) and Gary Eischeid (Gowrie, Iowa) participated in a public EPA hearing in Washington, D.C. Each and every comment that was submitted to the EPA will make a difference in stabilizing the ethanol volumes blended in the U.S. Our collective voice on Capitol Hill will be heard! Thanks to everyone who submitted comments to the EPA in support of ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard. Even though the comment period has concluded, we continue our fight to protect the RFS!



LIBERTY UPDATE Project LIBERTY, the POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant near Emmetsburg, Iowa, is entering the final legs of construction. Construction will wrap up and the plant will begin processing corn cobs and stalks into cellulosic ethanol shortly after. Though there is still much work to be done, the reality of cellulosic ethanol is just around the corner.

The ethanol distillation system is to the left with the Anaerobic Digester/Biogas. These areas are nearing completion in the coming weeks.





This is the front end process of LIBERTY. Mainly visible is the concrete Biomass handling building and the conversion tank farms. Construction is complete in these areas.



The pretreatment system is nearing completion within the next month.

The pretreatment system is to the right and the Solid Fuel Boiler to the left. Construction is ongoing and will be wrapping up in the coming weeks.

The solid fuel boiler construction is ongoing.







POET IS SEEKING PIONEERS TO FILL THE FOLLOWING POSITIONS THROUGHOUT 2014: Plant Merchandiser // Operations & Maintenance Supervisor Plant Technician // Materials Supervisor // Material Handler

Advanced Biofuels




POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels’ collection of biomass gives farmers a no-hassle approach to being a part of the future of ethanol.

by Steve Lange photos by Greg Latza





Over the past few years, more and more Emmetsburg, Iowa area farmers have been selling biomass to Project LIBERTY, a process that is reducing unnecessary field residue, increasing revenue, and perhaps revolutionizing farming. In 2010, during the test phase of the commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant, Project LIBERTY purchased 56,000 bone dry tons of biomass in the form of cobs, husks, and stalks. In 2014, Project LIBERTY, a joint venture between POET and Dutch-based DSM, plans to buy almost five times that amount – 285,000 bone dry tons of biomass – to produce 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol annually. Corn and soybean farmer Rick Elbert has been selling biomass to Project LIBERTY for four years. “This has definitely become a regular part of our farming operation,” says Elbert. “It has created another revenue stream and reduced our waste levels in the field. It has created business opportunities for young people in the community.” Elbert has seen that firsthand. His son Kyle, 22, started a custom baling business in the Emmetsburg area. “We’re keeping jobs in this community,” Elbert says. “More than that, we’re helping create a renewable resource that can help fuel the nation. The farmers that I know understand how good a deal this is for all of us, and it’s getting to be more common around here.” With the EZ Bale™ process,

farmers can collect biomass with a traditional combine and baler. The residue can be stored just like hay or straw before delivery. The EZ Bale, designed specifically for Project LIBERTY, removes a much lower rate of biomass, contains less ash material, and requires less nutrient replacement than traditional stover removal. The EZ Bale system not only makes biomass easy to collect and store, it also makes it easy on your farmland, says Adam Wirt, POET’s Biomass Logistics Director. “All of our research tells us this process is good for the farm,” Wirt says. “Selling this biomass provides a great way to manage excess residue levels that come with highyielding corn. We can actually increase corn yields.” Taking into account

tillage savings, yield increases and residue sales, a total profit increase of $50 or so per acre is realistic, according to Wirt.

“We’re taking something previously considered a waste stream and creating a renewable resource, creating revenue for farmers and creating jobs,” Wirt says. Eric Woodford can attest to the job creation. Previously a full-time farmer in Redwood Falls, Minn., Woodford also ran his own baling business. Recognizing the potential of Project LIBERTY, Woodford moved to Emmetsburg four years ago to open Woodford Equipment, a Vermeer dealership specializing in machinery for the cellulosic ethanol industry. “Project LIBERTY is doing so much for this community,” Woodford says. “But it’s more than a matter of economics. It’s about doing something good for our world.” For Woodford, the future of farming is just down the road, literally. “Some of the farmers around here still seem to be waiting to see if they should get involved or not,” he says. “All they have to do is talk to their neighbor, who’s probably already involved. Just look down the road at Project LIBERTY, and you’re looking at the future of farming. But it’s not the future anymore for Emmetsburg. It’s the here and now.” B.J. Schany, the Commodities Manager at POET Biorefining – Emmetsburg, points to the numerous agricultural studies touting the benefits of residue

removal. “Farmers spend a ton of money on residue management, and this system helps you get rid of residue and pays you at the same time,” he says. The process collects about 25 percent of available biomass, leaving the remainder in the field for erosion control and nutrient replacement. Those numbers are consistent with good farm management practices, according to recent studies from Iowa State University and the USDA. The ease of the collection process, says Schany, eliminates any

excuses farmers have regarding the gathering and transport of biomass. “For the farmers who don’t want to bale their own biomass, all they have to do is call us and we’ll do the work for them and they still get paid,” Schany says. “They say it’s the easiest money they’ve ever made.” While those benefits – the residue removal, the newfound revenue – serve as the tangible draw for those farmers within a 45-mile radius of Project LIBERTY, Adam Wirt knows this is about more than Emmetsburg.

We’re keeping jobs in this community. More than that, we’re helping create a renewable resource that can help fuel the nation. Rick Elbert Emmetsburg Farmer





“This could be the start of an agricultural revolution, and these farmers are the pioneers,” Wirt says. “With the response we’ve seen from the farmers in the Emmetsburg area, we can envision cellulosic ethanol plants cropping up in rural communities across the country. These farmers and this commuinty could change the world.”

For the farmers who don’t want to bale their own biomass, all they have to do is call us and we’ll do the work for them and they still get paid. They say it’s the easiest money they’ve ever made. B. J. Schany Commodities Manager POET Biorefining - Emmetsburg



Jim Nussle Austin Dillon, American Ethanol NASCAR driver and Chad Greenway, Minnesota Vikings linebacker

Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

More than 500 Growth Energy members in February met in Phoenix to get the latest in-depth information on the direction of the ethanol industry and hear why it is so crucial that they work hard to get their message directly to the people in every part of America. “Taking it to the Streets” was the theme for the Executive Leadership Conference, which included remarks and presentations from industry and ag leaders such as • Jeff Broin, Executive Chairman, POET; Co-Chair, Growth Energy Board of Directors • Tom Buis, CEO, Growth Energy • Sec. Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture • Harry Stine, President and CEO, Stine Seed Company • General Wesley Clark (Ret.), Co-Chair, Growth Energy Board of Directors by Matt Merritt photos courtesy of Growth Energy





The conference included inspirational words, industry insight and a celebration of ethanol’s success. Celebrities from the UFC®, NASCAR® and the NFL®

Jeff Broin, Founder and Executive Chairman of POET

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy

Austin Dillon, Tom Buis, General Wesley Clark, Richard Childress

POET Biorefining General Managers Matt Tomano, Cliff Brannon, Greg Olsen, Dave Hudak, Steve Pittman

took part in the events during the week to show their support for what biofuels means to America. In Broin’s address, he told attendees that education about the benefits of ethanol and the promise for the future needs to be a top priority for the industry. “It is critical that we invest in educating Americans on the benefits of homegrown American ethanol,” he said, and we must work to grow ethanol’s profile as “a desired brand and product.” “Nobody’s going to do it for us; it’s going to have to come from the people in this room.” Buis highlighted for members how the state of the industry has improved greatly since the historic drought the previous year. “Over the course of the year, margins have improved, imports have declined, exports have increased, fuel consumption increased …, the ddg market improved, and our nation’s farmers produced an all-time record crop,” he said. “Wow! How things can change in one year!” Buis mentioned expansion of E15 through retailers such as MAPCO and Minnoco. Industry victories included beating back the legal challenge of the E15 waiver, “the biggest legal victory our industry has ever, ever had.”

But all renewable energy sources face pressure from opponents today by an oil industry that is grasping tight its hold on its market share for energy. “We have to unite; we all have to work together because we’re all under attack,” Buis said. Vilsack highlighted the important role of ethanol in helping people in rural areas, and he lauded biofuels producers because of the spirit behind what they do. “I believe very strongly in you,” he said. “I believe very strongly in the concept and the idea of the industry. And the reason I do is because you have a national interest at heart.” Vilsack summed up the driving force behind the industry. “It isn’t just about the financials, it isn’t just about the business you own or the job or the farm that you have. You see this as helping the country,” he said. “It is a reflection of the value system that is alive and well in rural America.” Those who attended left with a renewed vigor to continue the growth of the ethanol industry even in the face of its challenges from the oil industry. They left with the mission of “Taking it to the Streets.”





The lab team members at POET ensure the quality of the fuel, feed and co-products that leave each biorefinery.

by Kayla Schlechter





In the last two issues, Vital has started introducing the people who are the heroes of their local communities and of POET’s 27 Biorefineries. We’ve taken you through procuring the corn with POET’s commodities teams and operating the plant by introducing you to the operations teams. This issue, you’ll meet the Gate Keepers – the people who ensure that each and every ounce of ethanol, distillers grains, corn oil and CO2 are produced precisely to POET and industry standards. Instead of wielding swords and shields, the Gate Keepers at POET are clad in lab coats and safety glasses. In their meticulous efforts day in and day out, the team members who work in POET’s 27 biorefinery labs can recognize a red flag with any tiny variation. Usually small variations and sometimes seemingly insignificant, these variations could cause a big upset later in the process. There is no ‘almost’ in this group of team members. They are focused on quality to an ounce of perfection.

Gwen Biersbach, Quality Manager at POET Biorefining – Big Stone, S.D.

The Lab Teams “I think the key word that describes my role is in my title – quality,” says Gwen Biersbach, Quality Manager at POET Biorefining – Big Stone, S.D. “A focus on quality allows me to look at how we do things from a perspective that desires consistency and accuracy in how we approach the production process.” At each location, the lab collects over 125 samples per week, 52 weeks per year at 27 locations – 175,500 samples annually at the combined POET biorefineries, give or take a few. They are taken from 190 and 200 proof ethanol, distillers dried grains, distillers wet grains, syrup, fermenters, fermenter fill, corn flour, the centrifuge and the dryer. And that’s not the end of it. Each of the 175,500 samples are analyzed and logged. Adjustments are made if necessary and potential problems are reported to the quality manager and plant manager. All of this is done to keep the plant meeting standards all day, every day. Once the data is compiled and analyzed by the lab, it moves on to other team members at the biorefinery. This data can determine inefficiencies or spur a change to create an even more sustainable process. Reviews done by the plant supervisors, engineers, the quality manager, plant manager or general manager can determine if the plant operations are as efficient and sustainable as they possibly could be. In collecting and analyzing these samples, the Gate Keepers of POET ensure the quality and consistency

Bill Tighe, Lab Assistant at POET Biorefining – Coon Rapids, Iowa

Photo by Peterson Creative Photography & Design

Michele Anderson, Quality Manager at POET Biorefining – Preston, Minn. WWW.VITALBYPOET.COM


crucial in the renewables and feed industries. They understand the value of ethanol and the corn kernel to a scientific level and they see the impact the ethanol industry is creating in their home communities. It’s these folks who are responsible that the 1.6 billion gallons of ethanol shipped out annually from POET all meets specification. Every product that comes out of the plant passes through a lab team member’s hands every day. They also keep a close eye on all aspects of plant production. Each sample that is taken is analyzed and tracked. If a wrong valve is left open or an ingredient missed, the lab will find it. “There’s no lack of possible things that can happen in our plant that can cause big challenges,” says Michele Anderson, Quality Manager at POET Biorefining – Preston, Minn. “It’s how we manage through those challenges that make our plant a success.”

Good isn’t good enough Though a successful plant is the main priority of every team member at the plant, POET’s culture statement “We always strive for excellence” shines through in this group. Good isn’t good enough. It’s always about optimizing and making things better than they were before. “Our results are used to help maximize efficiency of the different aspects of the plant,” says Bill Tighe, POET Biorefining – Coon Rapids, Iowa’s Lab Assistant. “We are continually working to get the most out of every kernel of corn.”

I feel the lab is like the Gate Keeper – no finished product can pass through without meeting POET standards. With the constant monitoring of the stages within the process we are often the first ones to see a variation in the system and can make a change before the problem becomes larger. Andrea Carpenter, Quality Manager at POET Biorefining – Laddonia

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“If we operate our plant with minimal variability, it allows the opportunities for optimization to be easier to detect,” says Biersbach. “Whereas, the focus on sustainability is a “big picture” goal and one that needs constant emphasis to continue ongoing improvement in an effort to use less water, increase our suite of renewable products and reduce energy inputs to name a few.” The minimal variability comes from the considerable amount and frequency of samples that are taken from the plant. With an analysis run on each sample, the variability is slim as adjustments are made every single day to ensure consistency.

Rural Scientists Scientist isn’t the most abundant job opportunity in rural America. Biersbach was well aware that her microbiology degree wouldn’t offer her many job prospects near her hometown. The ethanol industry made an impact on her life allowing her to come home and she recognizes the impact it’s having on others in the area as well. “A couple decades ago, families were leaving production agriculture because commodity prices made it

difficult to sustain a decent living,” Biersbach says. “The marketing opportunity that fuel ethanol has brought to the rural economy goes from farmers to implement dealers to retailers on Main Street.” The lab team’s work goes much farther than the lab and the ethanol plant. They are making a difference in their hometowns and rural America in its entirety. They are the gate keepers. But they don’t remain inside those gates. They’re quick to champion the

positives of the products they so diligently attend to far beyond those gates. Their passion for science now easily flows into a passion for the growth of renewable fuels and energy choices for consumers. “I work in the ethanol industry because I believe in helping people to have energy choices,” says Anderson. “I believe in clean air, clean water and green place to live. I believe in helping our communities to prosper. Ethanol is behind all of that.”

POET BIOREFINING LAB TEAM MEMBERS The team members below hold the titles of Quality Manager, Lab Technician or Lab Assistant at one of POET’s 27 Biorefinery locations. POET Biorefining – Alexandria Erin Thurston Christina Robison Kari Cook POET Biorefining – Ashton Nancy Dykstra Karey Julius Rebecca Habinck POET Biorefining – Big Stone Chad Folk Gwen Biersbach POET Biorefining – Bingham Lake Patricia Fleming POET Biorefining – Caro Randy Gremel Joshua Kieliszweski Emily Boynton POET Biorefining – Chancellor Karen Jorgensen Kianne Gilles Sarah Muller-Voegele POET Biorefining – Cloverdale Casey Rector Manuel Myers POET Biorefining – Coon Rapids Logan Teut Bill Tighe Joan Wiskus

POET Biorefining – Corning Atheena Gage Constance Hancock Andrea Heilig POET Biorefining – Emmetsburg Amy Sundall Nicholas Pokorzynski Kristi Geelan Michael Richardson Jennifer Garrelts John Jackson POET Biorefining – Fostoria Emily Schindorff Julia Darling Barbara Purviance POET Biorefining – Glenville Brenda Sorenson Elizabeth Cody Josh Karaus POET Biorefining – Gowrie Salena Hart Janice Pochinski Matthew Folmar POET Biorefining – Groton Valerie Pappas Bill Rosenau Erin Dreis

POET Biorefining – Hanlontown Kristin Allison Staci Herrera Paulette Rueter POET Biorefining – Hudson Mary Barnes Lisa Sohl Benjamin Lambertz POET Biorefining – Jewell Dave Carter Heidi Nye Mary Osborne

POET Biorefining – North Manchester Theresa Honeycutt Natalie Barnard Stephen Martinsky

POET Biorefining – Laddonia Kathy Ragland Susan Bitner Andrea Carpenter POET Biorefining – Lake Crystal Shauna Bates Colleen Dunker Sarah Solyntjes

POET Biorefining – Portland Laura Roediger Emily Peterson Bret Dawson, Jr. POET Research Center Brett Pearson Andrew Gall Joy Rigo Katherine Kokes Edward Kruse Michele Bares Debbie Roth

POET Biorefining – Leipsic Ronda Jacques Kelli Kottenbrock POET Biorefining – Macon Kaleena Shrum Melissa Miller Jessica Tremain

POET Biorefining – Marion Rachael Wain Deborah Johnson Howard Carlisle POET Biorefining – Mitchell Laura Laible Alex Bohlmann Jesse Voss

POET Biorefinig – Preston Laura Garcia Brenda Peterson Michele Anderson


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Primary Ingredient At one point, distillers grains were only considered the by-product to ethanol; an alternative feed ingredient at best. Now, it’s sought out for rations, coming in only second to corn.

by Lori Weaver photo by Greg Latza





After decades of relying largely on corn and soybeans to formulate animal diets, the emergence of distillers grains as the second most popular feed ingredient heralds a new era in animal nutrition. The rise from ethanol by-product to number two ranking among feed ingredients can be traced to three pivotal factors: economics, quality and delivery.

Consistency As Mike Skuodas, Director of Sales for POET Nutrition puts it, “Our value proposition comes down to quality and consistency of product – which directly correlates to animal performance – as well as supply assurance, meaning we have the capacity to provide delivery on our customer orders.” The ability to rely on a consistent, cost-effective product has been key to enabling the Morehouse farm to move away from other traditional feed ingredients. The operation, run by Brent Morehouse, along with his father Brad and brothers Justin and Jesse, is located near Groton, S.D. They operate one feedlot of about 300 head and two at 1,000 head each. The corn, wheat and soybeans they grow are sold rather than fed, a decision based on economics. “We feed very little corn or silage,” says Brent Morehouse. “The beet pulp replaces silage and the distillers replaces corn. It creates a cheaper ration and gains have been right up there with other feedlots.” Morehouse adds that POET Nutrition has been the best supplier

when it comes to keeping prices in line, allowing distillers grains to remain highly competitive. They prefer POET distillers wet grains (DWG). [see sidebar on pg. 43 for POET distillers grains products] “The wetter we can get the ration, the better the gains in our experience,” he explains. “We feed the wet until it gets significantly higher in cost than the drier product. Either way, it is definitely better than feeding corn.”

Different plant, same product “Our plant management team does an awesome job of inline process monitoring. Our internal standards are even tighter than the feed tag would indicate,” Skuodas says. “When customers are building rations, they are looking at all the ingredients they could bring in. With competitors’ products, they never really know what they are getting from one load to the next, so they have to build in a cushion to make sure the animals are getting the protein and energy they need, leaving money on the table.” But with Dakota Gold products, customers can be sure of what they are getting, even if they source from multiple POET plants. “The variation across our plants often is less than the variation within a competitor’s single plant,” Skuodas notes. Mark Greger also relies on the consistency of POET products. Greger operates Pike Feeds, a regional feed mill located in

Pittsfield, Ill. In business since 1991, the company provides livestock feed to customers in both Illinois and Missouri. The company does a substantial amount of beef business and began using POET’s Dakota Gold in the fall of 2013. “We have been seeing a substantial trend of finishing operations coming back to the Midwest,” says Greger. “These are long-term investments in facilities, not just a flash in the pan.” The company also does quite a bit of business with well-capitalized hog operations, in it for the long haul. “The beef and hog operations make for a nice mix that helps us stay diversified,” he says. Greger is pleased with POET’s Dakota Gold. “Regardless of what animal we are feeding, there’s a place for distillers grains in the diet somewhere. The feed is extremely palatable, so consumption is never an issue. Breed back and weaning rates are all showing positive parameters,” he says. “We can reduce the amount of phosphorous, so that helps the environment. On the beef side, the distillers serve as a good bypass protein source. The same is true for dairy.” Often, customers specifically



Regardless of what animal we are feeding, there’s a place for distillers grains in the diet somewhere. The feed is extremely palatable, so consumption is never an issue. Breed back and weaning rates are all showing positive parameters. Mark Greger Pike Feeds, Pittsfield, Ill.





request POET Dakota Gold products. “They understand the product is more scrutinized,” Greger says. Another advantage is that POET’s multiple locations allow him to go to another plant if necessary, and still receive a consistent product. “Because we have a network of plants, we can typically substitute if necessary. We can readily provide the nutrition profile to the customer and show what we are producing before we send a load,” Skuodas says.

What’s in a name? An easy choice For some customers, the use of distillers grains became an easy choice long ago. “It’s just good economics,” says Barb Weston, Plant Manager, Michiana Agra, Constandine, Mich. Michiana Agra feeds approximately 55,000 of its own swine annually and produces feed for about as many hogs for outside customers. “We’ve been using distillers grains in swine feeds for approximately 15 years. Right now, we are using 10 percent in all swine diets, but we have gone up to 30 percent at times,” she says. “You can lose a little bit of performance when you start to get over 20 percent, but you feed at those levels for economics.” She especially likes how POET’s unique processing improves digestibility. POET’s patented process doesn’t require a high temperature jet cooker to process corn as it goes into fermentation. “As a result, you get a feed product that is more digestible,” Skuodas says. “When you cook the product, like many of our competitors, you bind up nutrients. Cold processing keeps more nutrients available, which is especially important for monogastric animals.” Skuodas says when ethanol production started ramping up, it took awhile for the industry to adjust to using distillers grains. “The reality now is we are next to corn, right at the number two spot. Distiller grains are replacing corn and soybean meal as it provides both energy and protein. It is no longer an alternative feed, but instead has become a primary ingredient.”

Distillers grains This name describes the corn product left over after the kernel’s starch and some of its oil (fat) has been removed and ethanol has been distilled from a mixture of corn, water and enzymes. Distillers wet grains Also known as “wet cake,” is a primarily unfermented coproduct of the distillation process that includes protein, fiber, fat and up to 70 percent moisture. Distillers wet grain has a shorter shelf life than dried distillers grain, making it important for the livestock producer to have adequate transportation and storage available. Distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) This is a dried version of distillers grains, usually containing between 10 to 12 percent moisture. The solubles are from the syrup and contain protein, fat and minerals. They have been added back into this product after distillation. Syrup A liquid or semi-liquid substance composed of water soluble components extracted from the corn, this supplement is the “solubles” of distillers dried grains with solubles, and can be added to dried distillers grains by the plant, mill or the individual farmer/feeder. It can also be added to silage, field corn or any type of roughage fed to an animal.



NASCAR® UPDATE submitted by Ryan Welsh, Director of Sales and Marketing for American Ethanol

THE RETURN OF A DARK HORSE? HARDLY. The famed black #3 Chevrolet was never really considered a dark horse. When it ran in years past, it was with legends like Junior Johnson and Dale Earnhardt behind the wheel. In fact, the legendary #3 was pretty familiar with leading the pack and finding its way to victory lane. American Ethanol driver and advocate, Austin Dillon, isn’t a stranger to the checkered flag either. He has won championships in both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™ and the NASCAR Nationwide Series™. So, when rookie Austin Dillon won the 2014 Daytona 500 pole in the mighty #3, after being absent in

Junior under the American Ethanol Victory Lane Cap at Daytona the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ since 2001, it was in general agreement that a new chapter is being written for Team American Ethanol and partner Richard Childress Racing. Austin Dillon topped all rookies finishing 9th in the Daytona 500, the Super Bowl of auto racing and American Ethanol enjoyed victory lane as a NASCAR® competition sponsor on the #88 car. One can’t predict how the NASCAR season can shake out, but one thing is for sure, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team American Ethanol is a force to be reckoned with.

Austin Dillon

NASCAR® is a registered trademark of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ logo and word mark are used under license by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc., and Sprint. The NASCAR Nationwide Series™ logo and word mark are used under license by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc., and Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™ logo and word mark are used under license by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. and Camping World. 44




50 REASONS Why NASCAR® is American Ethanol’s Greatest Promotional Vehicle

• NASCAR is one of the largest spectator sports in America • NASCAR has nearly 70 million viewers for each NSCS race • The fans purchase over $3 billion annually in licensed products • Fan base is most brand loyal in all of sports • Fan base is passionate and has understanding official partner’s role in sport • More Fortune 500 companies sponsor NASCAR than any other sport • NASCAR is broadcast in over 150 countries • NASCAR is a 10 month sport • Our competition partnership validates that product e15 is safe for street cars • Retail e15 adoption opportunities • NASCAR has run over 5 million miles on Sunoco Green E15, a fuel blend with American Ethanol, without a single related incident • NASCAR fans are now 50% more likely to support American Ethanol in their own car • American Ethanol is now one of the top 10 most recognized brands in NASCAR • Print, radio and television exposure • NASCAR earned media • Media exposure in largest metro areas (tracks) • NASCAR continues to dispel myths & positively impact consumers through their media outreach • More than 140 NASCAR stories secured last year (4 times greater than ethanol alone) • American Ethanol truck giveaway (250,000 sign-ups) • NASCAR provides full access to senior management • Full access to NASCAR industry (cars, drivers, garage, meetings) • Fuel port exposure on every vehicle in top 3 National Series (vehicle, media, photos, die-casts) • Unique ownership of the American Ethanol Green Flag (races, photos, giveaways-thousands) • Contingency Award presentation photos leveraged with key stakeholders and media • Presence in victory lane to create an association with all race winners (hat dance) • Unique opportunity to bring other supporting members on board • Business opportunities with other official partners of NASCAR • NASCAR has political interest • Presence in other sponsor/partner media (Nationwide/Goodyear ads) • Partnership has played large role in putting NASCAR Green on the map

There’s a reason why American Ethanol’s official partnership with NASCAR is flourishing. Actually here are 50 of them.

• NASCAR has cut emissions by 20% • American Ethanol is the primary lead in the NASCAR Green Story • Primary exposure in NASCAR Green Institutional Media • Participation at NASCAR Green Summit for American Ethanol and industry partners • NASCAR Research & Development data sharing • NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week™ presence and opportunities • Partner marketing/advertising opportunities (brand value) • Track marketing partnerships and hospitality opportunities • Presence at partner tracks during races educating and communicating with fans • Team/Driver opportunities • Richard Childress Racing (RCR) Partnership in conjunction with an official partner of NASCAR • Richard Childress is a farmer, agriculture supporter and on the board of Growth Energy. • Austin Dillon will represent American ethanol for 2014 in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series • Historic win at Eldora (first NASCAR race on dirt in 40 years-mega media event) • Entire stable of RCR drivers including RC will represent and speak on behalf of American Ethanol • American Ethanol is a sponsor of the iconic black #3 • Great earned media opportunities from black #3 return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series • Primary on car for 6 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races – Associate sponsor for remainder • Investor/partner opportunities with RCR • Shared technical expertise with Earnhardt Childress Racing and Dr. Andy Randolph



THE AMERICAN ETHANOL #3 CAR DEBUTS IN PHOENIX The American Ethanol #3 Chevrolet was unveiled by Growth Energy Board Members, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Austin Dillon at the conclusion of the Executive Leadership Conference in Phoenix on February 28. American Ethanol will be the primary sponsor on the #3 in Dover on June 1, Pocono on August 3, Michigan on August 17, Richmond on September 6, and Kansas on October 5. The Biofuels Mobile Education center will also be activated at these tracks to continue the hard work of educating and communicating the benefits of American Ethanol to the mass fan base of NASCAR. American Ethanol will also continue its partnership with Iowa Speedway and be the entitlement sponsor for the Iowa 200 on July 11.

The American Ethanol #3 unveiled with Growth Energy’s Board of Directors and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

BRAND POWER It’s hard to deny that American Ethanol is the most powerful brand in the ethanol industry. American Ethanol is now one of the top ten most recognized brands in NASCAR and has expanded to the UFC arena and many more. If you see the American Ethanol brand out there please take a snap shot and send it to info@americanethanolracing. com

American Ethanol hosted over 300 producers and supporters at Phoenix International Raceway

American Ethanol displays the Biofuels Mobile Education Center at Phoenix International Raceway Pinewood Derby entry Cresco, IA submitted by Dave Sovereign 46




The American Ethanol #3 inauguration in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Phoenix International Raceway

Catch the American Ethanol Green Flag drops and all the race action on MRN.

renew Blue Zone Project™

Mason City Blue Zones Project officials have announced that POET Biorefining – Hanlontown, Iowa has become the 34th work site in this area to achieve the Blue Zones Worksite designation. To become a Blue Zone worksite, companies must complete the necessary items in the Blue Zones worksite pledge including registering more that 25 percent of their team members for the project and adopting a comprehensive tobacco-free policy. “POET’s tobacco-free policy is one of the very first for a company of its size in our area and will serve as a model for future policy change” stated Ellen Kehr, Project Official for the Mason City Blue Zones project. The team members at

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the Blue Zones work site was held on Wednesday, February 19, at the plant in Hanlontown, Iowa.

Hanlontown were recognized for their volunteer projects in Hanlontown and the surrounding communities.




Happy ten year anniversary to POET Biorefineries in Ashton and Hanlontown, Iowa and Hudson, S.D.!

10 years with No Lost Time POET Biorefining – Hudson, S.D celebrated their 10 year anniversary this spring. While 10 years in production is something to celebrate, they had another great accomplishment in those 10 years as well. Since inception, the team has never had a lost time accident! Ten years without one lost time accident. Congratulations, POET Biorefining – Hudson on this great achievement!





The team celebrated 10 years without a lost time accident by serving up strikes at the bowling alley.

Excellence Award POET Biorefining teams in Gowrie and Corning, Iowa and Cloverdale, Ind. were recognized for rail transportation safety this past year by receiving CSX’s Chemical Safety Excellence Award for 2013. The award is given to companies who ship more than 600 carloads of hazardous materials without experiencing a non-accident release (NAR) during the entire year. Front row: Dereck Rossock, Commodity Supervisor at POET Biorefining – Cloverdale, Ind.; Jennifer Rassmussen, Commodity Supervisor at POET Biorefining – Gowrie, Iowa; Mark Elwood, Commodity Assistant at POET Biorefining – Corning, Iowa Back row: CSX team members

CSX’s annual Chemical Safety Excellence Award, celebrates customers’ commitment to safe hazardous material rail car loading and maintenance. Recipients understand the best practices of chemical safety, and demonstrate a commitment to those practices and strong industry leadership among their peers.

Tuscola STARS One of 8 finalists nominated, POET Biorefining – Caro, Mich. was awarded the 2014 Business Star Award in Tuscola County this spring. Tuscola County Human Services Collaborative Council and the Tuscola County Community Foundation hold an annual event to allow citizens to nominate individuals, churches, community groups, and businesses for a Tuscola Stars Award. The team in Caro was also recognized by State Senator Mike Green, State Representative Terry Brown, and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder for this award. WWW.VITALBYPOET.COM



Iowa Governor visits Hanlontown

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds toured POET Biorefining – Hanlontown, Iowa on Tuesday, April 15. The visit was part of the Governor’s commitment to visit every county in Iowa every year. The Governor and his staff met with POET Regional Vice President Tim Voegele and POET Biorefining – Hanlontown Technical Manager Ted West. Governor Branstad applauded POET’s continued research and development and investments in the industry and recognized POET for its involvement in the communities where biorefineries reside.

Kids Against Hunger

A few team members from POET Biorefining – Hudson, S.D. recently joined Alcester Hudson School District’s FFA and National Honor Society chapters along with additional local businesses to participate in Kids Against Hunger project to package meals to be sent to hungry families in Haiti. The event was selected in conjunction of National Agriculture Day, held on March 25, 2014, to recognize and celebrate abundance provided by agriculture. Kids Against Hunger is a humanitarian food-aid organization whose goal is to significantly reduce the number of hungry children in the USA and to feed starving children throughout the world by packaging highly nutritious, vitamin fortified meals by volunteers. POET Biorefining – Hudson sponsored a portion of the meal cost while team members volunteered their time. Team members from POET Biorefining Hudson that donated time to pack meals included: Jeremy Halgerson, Carmen Kast, Natalie Stene, Joel Jarman, Cliff Huot, Mary Barnes, Ben Lambertz, Craig Farrell and Dorothy Dodge.

POET Biorefining – Hudson team members, Alcester Hudson FFA and the local National Honor Society helped to feed 41,400 kids





Over 41,000 meals were packed and shipped on the Orphan Grain Train, a volunteer network that resources the logics to deliver the materials to be shipped to organizations who contribute to volunteer relief efforts.

TALLY Would you buy E15 if it were available in your area?

Vital asked readers about the buying E15 if it were available in their area. Here’s what they said:


93% 7%

To see more answers from our readers, check out the Perspective on page 18. • 800-495-9880 © 2014 CenterPoint Energy 140285

SELLING the future of

ETHANOL POET’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Doug Berven, spends his time advocating ethanol to groups around the world. by Steve Lange photo by Greg Latza

When Doug Berven interviewed with POET a decade ago, company founder Jeff Broin told him: “We don’t know exactly what we’re going to do with you, but I’ve got a feeling you’ll fit right in. You’re hired.” That hunch paid off. Today, Berven’s coworkers describe him as “the goto person for the ethanol industry’s history” and “a sought-after speaker” and “the face of POET to industry stakeholders.” “Doug does not look back,” says Berven’s boss, Kyle Gilley, the Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Corporate Affairs. “He looks forward. He’s always selling the positive, always selling the future of the industry. Doug brings that combination of communication skills coupled with the industry history.”





As POET’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Berven says the job has given him the opportunity to embrace his entrepreneurial spirit while making a difference in the world. “I don’t know where else I could work that would allow me to make a bigger impact on the things I care most about,” Berven says. “I’m proud to be part of a company that has such a positive impact on transportation, on the air my kids breathe, the economy, and on the world as a whole.” And, more than a decade after that interview with Jeff Broin, Berven continues to fit right in, and Broin’s hunch continues to pay off.

Kyle Gilley described you as “even-keeled.”

DOUG: Fair assessment. Kyle also said “team player.”

DOUG: I would hope that’s true.

Mary Hart about a year ago. So that one I know. I’ve never heard of the first name. I know who David Soul is, but I can’t imagine what I have in common with him. You all attended Augustana College in Sioux Falls.

DOUG: That’s good to know. He called you “The face of POET” to outside stakeholders.

DOUG: Boy, that’s a big one, that’s really complimentary. I wouldn’t call myself the face of POET, but I do represent POET around the world the best I can. Tell me about your recent hunting trip.

DOUG: My son, Chase, is 14. He spent many hours with me hunting deer this past year. We ended up shooting a really nice one that scored over 165 inches. It was so cold out that day Chase’s gun locked up so I shot the deer, but it was a combination effort. I give my son the credit because he would have shot it if his gun wouldn’t have locked up. Does your daughter hunt?

DOUG: Brynn is 13 and she does not hunt. She’s into choir, piano, dance, and she loves to swim. You’ve been described as the go-to guy for speaking engagements for POET.

DOUG: I like representing POET and the industry. I usually do 15 to 20 speaking engagements a year, everything from small Rotary Clubs to panels around the world. How do you deal with the negative questions? You must get people challenging you.

DOUG: Actually, that’s some of the most fun I have representing POET. It’s one thing to preach to the choir about the benefits of your product, your company, your industry. It’s another thing to convince people that they aren’t looking at things properly and turn those people around. We have a great story to tell. Not enough people are hearing it. When we provide the benefits in a factual format, people start to understand what ethanol has to offer. I like to deal with criticism, because most of the criticism is misinformation, and it gives me the chance to tell the real story. I’ll give you some names, tell me how they’re tied to you: Accordionist Myron Floren; David Soul from “Starsky and Hutch”; and television host Mary Hart.

DOUG: Well, I’ve got a bloodline in common with Mary Hart. She’s a second or third cousin of mine. Very close to my father and grandma. We just had dinner with

What did you do when you started at POET?

DOUG: Jeff Broin asked me to write a business plan for POET Nutrition, which is our animal nutrition division. We did a deep dive on that company, where it was going, what its product mix was, what its future looked like. A strategy session. We changed the name of the company and moved it to Sioux Falls. I’m not trying to take credit for where POET Nutrition is by any means, but it helped guide what the potential of that organization was. You help new hires get up to speed.

DOUG: I give one-on-one presentations on what we do, why we do it, the history of ethanol and POET, and what the future looks like. People are excited about the job, excited about the company, but they might not have all the information. This gives them the comfort that whatever move they made to come to POET, it was the right move. What does the future look like?

DOUG: The future for ethanol looks great. We’ve got a problem with our fuel supply today. It’s too expensive. We spend too much money on foreign oil. We use our military to protect the pathways for oil to get to this country. Oil is diminishing. It’s not renewable. We need something to compete or oil companies are going to continue to monopolize the system. In 1973, during the OPEC oil embargo, the price of oil went from about $3 to about $30 a barrel within 8 years. The price of a barrel in 2001 was $22. Then 9/11 hit. The cost today is over $100 a barrel. If history is an indication of what happens when there’s a global event, it’s a multiplying of the price of oil. Can we really afford another global event without a competitive product to gasoline? Do you and your wife, Sandy, ever wear matching sweatshirts?

DOUG: Only on special occasions. We do the things that happily married couples do: movies, dinner, spending time together, being involved with our kids. With all the busy things life throws at us, we like to spend as much time as we can together. We like to go south in the winter with friends, to someplace warm and try to vacation as a family in the summer.



CONUNDRUM ACROSS 1. Carbon dioxide and methane, for example, abbr. 5. Dakota ___ 9. Scoff at 13. Atmosphere 14. Olympic skater Kulik 15. Transplant facilitator 16. Posted publicly 18. Poet works continuously to reduce usage of this valuable liquid 19. Spreading tree 20. Entreated 21. Evaluators 22. Tangle 24. They complete circuits 25. Vex 26. Gym bag 27. By chance 30. Tree knots 31. Top card 34. Chipping choice 35. Dentist’s request 36. Anguish 37. Lift or jump prefix 38. American swimmer Evans 39. Intermission 40. Steamy spots 42. Carry on 43. Type of fuel containing high percentages of carbon 44. Bio-based corn oil derived from Poet’s BPX process 46. Colors slightly 47. Pleated garment 48. C.E.O.’s degree 51. Broadway backer 52. Natural, non-toxic edible protein product created by POET 54. No Mr. Nice Guy 55. Huge amounts 56. Opposite of hinder 57. “Hey ... over here!” 58. Engage, as gears 59. Take the skin off 54




DOWN 1. Stare, in wonder 2. Shell of a ship 3. Nutrition units 4. Biological pocket 5. Young and feminine 6. Ancient 7. Deceived 8. Family member 9. Beard type 10. Connect back and forth 11. Dutch South Africans 12. Makes a blunder 15. Overshadows 17. A silly trick 21. Ransack 23. Furnace 24. German sausage 26. Sandy hills 27. Pronoun 28. Evan Almighty vessel 29. Chemical warfare weapon 30. Double

32. Chinese brew 33. Mock-frightened cry 35. Princesses from Mumbai 36. Univalent organic radical 38. In fairness 39. Rapid military attack 41. Way up 42. Buff 43. Penalties 44. Spanish exclamations 45. Single celled life form 46. Press down 47. You can take one in football 49. Frame used for burials 50. Jacked up the pot 52. Belief system 53. Jolt of electricity


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THE LAST COLUMN ABOUT NOTHING. AND EVERYTHING. I’ll never forget the first “From the Heartland” column I wrote for Vital magazine in the summer of 2008. My instructions for the piece were clear – write something that fit the mold and make-up of the column’s intended light-hearted appeal. This produced “To Farm or Not to Farm: That is the Question.” It was a personal narrative referencing the countless sacrifices my grandfather made in raising four kids on his own while still successfully managing the family farm. Considering I had a deeply emotional attachment to the substance of the story, writing it was easy. What wasn’t so simple? Coming up with a storyline for column number two. For one, I hadn’t fully anticipated a return call to active Vital duty. Furthermore, the extent of my previous writing experience consisted of one journalism class my junior year of high school, which I’m not ashamed to admit I took because of the teacher. She turned more heads than my family physician, Dr. Burns, who performed the majority of the sports physical exams in Albert Lea. And finally, I think it’s fair to say my initial column had already exhausted my reservoir of Heartland related material. Let’s not forget, to this day I still pay to have my lawn mowed. In fact, the only thing I’m cutting every summer is my work schedule so I can make my tee time on Wednesday nights. That said I often get asked, “Have they ever rejected one of your columns?” Only once, and it was dreaded column number two. I completely butchered it choosing to write about some epic trading loss by a natural gas trader in 2006. That resulted in the second fastest “no” I’ve ever heard in my life, preceded only by my attempt to convince my current (and future) wife that having my bachelor party in Las Vegas was the responsible thing to do because of their unparalleled taxi cab service. I was told by Team Vital once again that my column shouldn’t be focused necessarily on industry-related issues or concepts, but rather on the HEARTland. It was in that moment that I had an epiphany that would forever





influence every column I wrote thereafter. What did they really want me to write about? Nothing. I thought to myself, now that I can do. Operating from this unwavering principle over the past 5 years, which in part was fostered by the TV sitcom Seinfeld, the original show about nothing, I’ve managed to write more columns than I ever dreamed possible. With my modus operandi clearly set on ‘nothingness’ I penned such insightful works as “Heartland Confessions,” “Parade Season” and “Less Really is More.” However, as I look back even closer, what was the common thread in each of those columns? Most often it was a reflection of thoughts concerning the unique relationships between sons, fathers, and grandfathers. There were stories about friends, dogs, coaches, spouses, as well as, some pint-sized heroes of mine walking this planet under the weight of Cystic Fibrosis and Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes. And I realized that what started out as an attempt to write about nothing turned into a very personal conversation about my everything. In this, my last column for From the Heartland, I want to thank Team Vital for giving me this opportunity. It has been a privilege and an honor to share my everything with all of you and for that I am eternally grateful. Thank you.

Marcus Ludtke graduated from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn., in 2001 and started working for POET Risk Management in May of that year. His primary responsibilities include managing POET’s corn position and market research.

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food or fuel? smart is producing both. Ethanol is increasingly important in providing America with a clean source of renewable energy. See your New Holland dealer to hear how our equipment can help you harvest both food AND fuel.



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Vital Magazine - Spring 2014  
Vital Magazine - Spring 2014