Time flies! It has been an entire decade since POET, along with 10 other industry leaders, left behind the existing ethanol advocacy groups and launched Growth Energy. It was a bold move, but the E10 Blend Wall was fast approaching and the previous organizations weren’t doing enough to get us beyond it. Little did we know that an organization formed out of necessity would grow to not only lead the ethanol industry in the next 10 years but also change the world.
The formation of Growth Energy was far from impulsive; we had previously tried to unite the existing advocacy groups for the good of the industry. Although their boards of directors were interested, their executive directors worked hard to make sure it didn’t happen. Our goal to create a new industry powerhouse was scoffed at by many. However, there were 11 ethanol producers that understood the vision and wanted to see things handled differently in the future. That group decided to come together to take biofuels to the next level.
Those companies had the courage to go against the grain in order to establish a new organization with the vitality, drive and budget to reach that goal — and quite frankly, there wasn’t another option. At the time, commodity supplies were increasing with no market to consume them. If we couldn’t obliterate the Blend Wall, the future looked bleak for ethanol and agriculture. But we saw opportunity just beyond that wall, so we took the leap and established Growth Energy.
Our first action as an organization in 2008 — within the first month of operation — was the writing and filing of the E15 Green Jobs Waiver. In the years that followed, we continued to take charge. Growth Energy took the lead on every legislative, political, legal and public relations issues facing the industry on both federal and state levels.
In 2013 we created the Prime the Pump initiative to generate retail momentum for E15. Since its inception, Prime the Pump has become largest marketing program in the history of biofuels. Our retail partners are now selling biofuel blends at more than 4,400 stations across 30 states, and we believe that number will increase quickly and significantly once RVP relief is granted. The Prime the Pump program is singlehandedly creating the competitive environment necessary to drive E15 into every pump at every gas station in the country.
Today, Growth Energy is the largest organization of its kind in the world, with a budget four times larger than any other ethanol trade association. While others’ membership and revenues are decreasing, ours are growing. We currently have 100 plant members and 88 associate members, as well as a staff of 22 talented individuals located in six different cities across the country who work tirelessly every day to represent and champion our industry.
We believe E15 will become America’s fuel in just a few short weeks, thanks in large part to the efforts of Growth Energy. E15 will create 7 billion gallons of new ethanol market and 2 billion bushels of new corn demand, and it will show the world that ethanol is the best readily available solution to global climate change. Once thought of as the underdog, Growth Energy has become the unlikely hero of the ethanol industry and has grown into a dynamic organization.
Were it not for the vision of those 11 companies and the many members that have joined along the way, we would still be years away from realizing the market for E15. It took more than 30 years to convert the nation to E10, but the strides we’ve made with E15 in only a decade prove that Growth Energy is a great example of what it takes to be successful. Change requires extraordinary vision, significant risk and exceptionally hard work. It takes the blood, sweat and tears of an army to move a mountain. E15 is that mountain, and Growth Energy is our army.
I would like to thank and congratulate the board of directors and members of Growth Energy as well as our highly dedicated staff for a remarkable ten years. We are moving a mountain. We are changing the world. We are creating a better future for everyone on the planet, and it’s something we should all be proud of.