RIN programs merge to stabilize biodiesel market
An agreement has been struck between Genscape Inc. and Lee Enterprises Consulting to merge Lee Enterprises’ renewable identification number (RIN) verification program, RIN 9000, into Genscape’s trademarked RIN Integrity Network.
Supported by the National Biodiesel Board and its appointed RIN taskforce, Genscape launched its program in late May after a series of biodiesel RIN fraud cases in the past year paralyzed the RIN market, hitting particularly hard the small- and medium-sized producers who have been unable to sell their RINs. It has not just been the biodiesel producers suffering from RIN fraud, however; obligated parties have been hit with fines from the U.S. EPA, which has taken a “buyer beware” approach, and bear the huge cost burden of replacing invalidated RINs. Brokers have also been damaged by the defrauders.
The program launch is what the company referred to as a fast-to-market, two-phase approach. It initially showcases audited plants on a dashboard map with details of audit compliance that are desired by obligated parties. Dozens of producers are in the onboarding process to be added to the dashboard. Ongoing monitoring is being configured for producers that have registered for the service.
Susan Olson, vice president of Genscape, told Biodiesel Magazine that its RIN Integrity Network’s unique offerings include ongoing monitoring using proprietary, physical equipment; data collection from producers, utilities and feedstock providers; and EMTS monitoring. The proprietary equipment includes sensors that can monitor feedstock, alcohol and finished product tank levels; infrared cameras; video monitoring techniques watching truck and rail traffic, and more. Olson said Genscape has sought partners such as Lee Enterprises to better offer a “full bevy of services” to its clients.
What Lee Enterprises’ group of experts brings to the table, according to Olson, is fuel quality sampling and RIN education, among others. She said obligated parties still have concerns about fuel quality, and partnering with Lee Enterprises can be Genscape’s foray into biodiesel quality sampling and analysis.
Lee Enterprises launched RIN 9000 earlier this year, just before the National Biodiesel Conference.
Wayne Lee, CEO of Lee Enterprises, and Olson both say that, while the two companies initially viewed each other’s programs as competition, it later became clear how the two programs could complement each other.
Jess Hewitt, CEO of Gulf Hydrocarbon and Lee Enterprises’ RIN expert, will provide initial RIN education services to clients to make sure producers understand exactly what is required in creating, attaching, selling, buying and retiring RINs. AP Innovations, a full-service engineering company that recently completed its 22nd biodiesel plant startup, will conduct on-site visits. Christianson & Associates PLLP will provide RIN attestation, auditing, verification and consulting services. Intertek Commodities, an industry leader in analytical testing, will perform ASTM testing of product samples collected during site visits. Lee Enterprises will have its group of biodiesel experts available, and Genscape will recommend Lee Enterprises Consulting to its producer-clients who might benefit from the variety of other biodiesel services offered by Lee Enterprises.
Lee said the merging of the two programs is good for the industry in many ways, including cutting down on the confusion in an already stressed market.
Christianson & Associates Managing Partner John Christianson said, “Our group has worked extensively with both Genscape and Lee Enterprises so we are very familiar with the strengths of both groups.” Christianson said this new alliance brings the talent of many experts into one program, which he said “is exactly what the RIN market needs right now.”
NBB CEO Joe Jobe said, “We provided substantial input to Genscape as they created their RIN Integrity Network, and we are very familiar with Lee Enterprises Consulting group and the biodiesel talent within their consultants and strategic partners. With Genscape’s history of providing information to the energy industry, and Lee Enterprises’ expertise in biodiesel and their relationship with the small producers nationwide, this is a very strong alliance that we believe will address the RIN problems that currently exist.”
Olson noted that small producers simply want to sell their RINs at fair market value, and obligated parties want assurances that the RINs they purchase are valid. “This joining of forces by the biodiesel industry's major groups allows our RIN Integrity Network to answer those problems urgently for producers and obligated parties.”