The modern ethanol industry is a direct result of deliberate
public policy measures designed to support the development
of renewable alcohols from a range of feedstocks. Consequently
there are numerous legislative and regulatory programs that
impact ethanol development, at both the federal and state level.
Energy, agriculture, environment, transportation, and tax policy
all play a role in shaping the ethanol industry, and all must
be monitored and require direct involvement.
As the founder and managing entity for the Clean Fuels Development
Coalition, Durante Associates personnel have been involved
in virtually every major legislative and regulatory initiative
affecting the ethanol industry since its inception 25 years
ago. The firm has a detailed knowledge of the legislative
process as it affects ethanol, as well as the federal agency
programs that implement policy. The firm works directly with
members of Congress and agency personnel on these issues.
In addition, an increasing role in recent years by state
governments in these programs has resulted in significant
interaction with Governors and state energy, agriculture,
and air quality officials
Market Assessment & Analysis
This is a direct outgrowth of the firm’s extensive
work in the legislative and regulatory arena, since ethanol
demand is in large part driven by so many external factors.
Durante Associates has developed economic and statistical data
on fuel production, pricing and distribution. They have conducted
ethanol market studies for more than a dozen clients and participated
in many others as a subcontractor. Clean air needs, oxygen
requirements, local tax incentives, and many other factors
are considered in determining market demand and value.
The firm has been involved in developing a more favorable
market through the establishment of incentives or the development
of strategic partnerships.
Advanced Technology Production & Applications
In its simplest form, ethanol is used as an octane enhancer
and gasoline extender. In addition, it has been effectively
used as a gasoline additive to reduce emissions and is a well
known pollution control strategy. Durante Associates has assisted
metropolitan areas in quantifying the emission reductions they
might expect from clean fuel programs utilizing ethanol, and
helped in working with state and federal air quality officials.
In addition to its use as a gasoline additive, the use of
ethanol derived from domestic agricultural products or urban,
forestry, or other wastes, in the production of hydrogen
or in direct fuel cell applications is an exciting possibility.
Durante Associates is working with commercial development
companies exploring this possibility. Ethanol is also expanding
its role as an alternative fuel, used in dedicated or hybrid
vehicles. The firm works with major automobile manufacturers
in an effort to support E85 programs. As the cost of petroleum
products rises the availability of alternative fuels becomes
more and more important, and there is increasing interest
in these advanced applications.
On the production side, with a mature, corn based industry
providing much of the product throughout the Midwest, other
regions of the country are anxious to achieve some of the
economic benefits those Midwestern states are experiencing.
New technologies including acid and enzymatic hydrolysis,
gasification, and hybrid combinations may unlock the hidden
potential of cellulosic biomass. Durante Associates has worked
with many of the major firms developing these technologies
and currently represents two such firms.
Plant Design and Siting
As the demand for ethanol increases, more production capacity
is required, and new plants must be built. Durante Associates
has assisted a number of companies in planning and siting such
plants from Maryland to Hawaii. Logistics for the siting of
these plants is a critical issue. Proximity to the raw materials
and a myriad of regulatory and transportation issues, are only
a few of the considerations needed. Local and federal legislation
are also factors. Many firms successful in other business areas
have utilized Durante Associates’ services to identify
vendors, including those in the design, build, and construction
industries. Durante Associates works with all the major ethanol
firms and has the experience in all of these areas to provide
cost efficient services to companies entering this business
Durante Associates can combine all of the above areas into
a lead role in project development. In the past that has included
serving as a general contractor, helping clients identify potential
plant sites, strategic partners, identifying and selecting
design and build firms, marketing of the product, establishment
of local incentives, identification of permitting and other
regulatory challenges, developing government and community
relations strategies, and countless other tasks associated
with developing a project.
The firm has performed nearly one dozen “pre feasibility” studies
at a fraction of the cost of a traditional feasibility study.
These studies are designed in stages, providing incremental
information that provides several “go-no go” jumping
off points. By making general cost and production assumptions,
these studies focus on transportation, marketing, and siting
issues that often indicate at an early stage whether the
project might be successful. These studies have often resulted
in clients deciding not to pursue the project, but they are
thankful to Durante Associates for having been able to avoid
significant and unnecessary costs to make that determination.
For those projects that do go ahead, financing ethanol plants
is a unique challenge, and the firm can help facilitate discussions
between clients and many of the financial institutions we
are in contact with.
during the Chief Ethanol plant expansion dedication
in Hastings, Nebraska.
ETHANOL CASE STUDIES
Durante Associates was the original founder and currently
serves as the operating manager for the Clean Fuels
Development Coalition (CFDC), a non-profit organization
promoting the production and use of alternative transportation
fuels. The CFDC is comprised of agricultural organizations,
fuel producers and marketers, automobile manufacturers,
new technology firms, and other related industries.
The CFDC has become nationally recognized for its work
on the Clean Air Act of 1990 and is involved in a variety
of legislative and regulatory issues.
a major U.S. energy and environmental company expanding
into the alternative fuels industry, Durante Associates
assisted in the siting, financing, and complete development
of an ethanol production facility. The firm also conducted
a market assessment and analysis for the ethanol to
be used as a gasoline additive to reduce auto emissions.
Associates designed and implemented an entire state
incentive program on behalf of a U.S energy company
seeking to enter the ethanol industry. The firm worked
with the state legislature and relevant agencies to
design an incentive package of tax incentives for both
ethanol production and utilization.
a rural Midwest community, Durante Associates conducted
a study to determine the feasibility of building a
locally owned ethanol plant. Durante Associates assisted
in designing the study and securing the resources to
fund it. Durante Associates assembled a team, including
a certified design and build firm, in order to conduct
a preliminary pro forma economic assessment. The study
developed a number of economic scenarios on input costs,
and ran projections on varying levels of ethanol and
co-product returns. It was determined that there were
insufficient returns to justify investment, and the
project did not go forward.
Associates was retained by an investment firm involved
in financing ethanol plants to identify the impact
of pending legislative actions on several projects
they were involved with. The firm’s report and
sensitivity analysis resulted in one of the plants
While skilled in general communications techniques,
Durante Associates has designed the comprehensive communications,
education, and outreach program for a non-profit Foundation
supporting alternative fuels. This program includes
publications, workshops, and a radio program. The firm
has served as spokesmen for clients on radio and television,
and written speeches and ghost written various articles.
Roger Conway, Director of the U.S. Department
of Agriculture's office of energy, policy, and new uses checks
out a new GM E85 pickup with Doug Durante.