The annual conference took place August 23-25 at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center, with the theme "Everything Counts."

2023 ACE Conference. Image courtesy of ZimmComm

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) honored a select group of advocates for their contributions to the ethanol industry during its 36th annual conference this month in Minneapolis.

The Merle Anderson Award, named after the organization’s founder, went to Ron Alverson this year. Alverson was a founder and is a current board member of Lake Area Corn Processors LLC (Dakota Ethanol), a 90 million gallon per year ethanol production plant in Wentworth, SD, where he works on low carbon ethanol fuel pathways. He is a past president of ACE’s board of directors and current treasurer.

Alverson has played an influential role in advocating the importance of carbon intensity to corn farmers and ethanol producers; from how tillage practices help increase soil organic carbon, and how 4R nutrient management reduces nitrous oxide emissions, to helping the Department of Energy scientists at the Argonne National Laboratory, who invented the GREET model, better understand modern day farming practices. While Alverson enjoys getting into the technical weeds with soil scientists and lifecycle modelers, he also has the patience to explain these facts to ordinary people and inspires everyone in the corn and ethanol industries to care about the importance and economic value of “counting carbon” through his tireless advocacy and invention of educational tools, such as the “ACE” Carbon Intensity Calculators. ACE CEO Brian Jennings presented the award to Alverson during ACE’s luncheon and awards ceremony on Thursday, August 24.

“The famous English scientist Isaac Newton once said, ‘If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,’” Alverson recited during his acceptance speech. “And that’s so true today, we can see perfect because we had the opportunity to stand on their shoulders and see out into the future. That really exemplifies the ACE board.

“Thank you for this incredible honor,” Alverson continued. “It is an honor to serve on this board of directors with all of you, and I really look forward to continuing to work with everybody here – let’s move this industry forward.”

David Thompson, chairman of the Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (CVEC) board, presented the Grassroots Award to Jan Lundebrek during the August 24 awards ceremony. Lundebrek’s enthusiastic leadership was instrumental in the formation of Chippewa Valley Agrafuels Cooperative (CVAC) and CVEC, one of the first ethanol plants in the state of Minnesota. Her extensive financial background helped ensure shares were sold to local farmers and loans were secured to build the plant. Her passion and commitment to rural America and the domestic ethanol industry has always been evident by her active participation in every ACE DC fly-in and during ACE’s conferences and board meetings.

“I just want to thank everyone for stepping up when it counts,” Lundebrek said. “It’s not just me — it’s the work of the rural communities, ACE and the individuals that really make a difference. I’m proud of the work I have done and to be able to receive this award, but I am more so pleased with the way others have done the work and advocated to get the industry to where it is today.”

ACE chief marketing officer (CMO) Ron Lamberty presented the Paul Dana Marketing Vision Award to Glenn Badenhop prior to the retailer panel during Friday morning’s general session of the conference. Badenhop owns American Freedom Energy in Liberty Center, Ohio, and received this award for his leadership in promoting the expansion of higher blends of ethanol to consumers, as well as overcoming many trials as a station owner. Being one of the first stations in the U.S. to offer E15, while also being one of the most recent to offer E15, his story is important to share with prospective higher blends marketers. Badenhop spent the last 18 months battling his oil company supplier and clearing their red tape to sell E15, alongside the other gasoline grades under the canopy, which he couldn’t do when he initially began offering the product. Badenhop and his station fought to make and keep E15 and flex fuels available in Northwest Ohio, making him a worthy recipient of this award.

“I really appreciate ACE and everybody for nominating me. It’s been a long road making the vision I had twelve years ago become a reality, but I kept working at it and this award makes it worthwhile,” Badenhop said. “To me, this award symbolizes my effort and the need to take a risk knowing that in the end it benefits not just me, but the community and the ethanol industry. There is nobody else in my area offering higher blends, so I feel like I have a leg-up on the competition, and this award proves higher blends do work and are accepted by the consumer.”

ACE also presented the 2023 Policy and Legislative Leadership Award to U.S. Representative Angie Craig (MN-2), for her strong leadership on biofuel issues, from her ongoing commitment to ensuring consumer access to E15 through the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (H.R. 1608) to backing of the Next Generation Fuels Act (H.R. 2434), which would remove barriers to expanding the use of ethanol as well. ACE also acknowledges Representative Craig’s staunch advocacy for farmers, keeping the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) on track and recognizing the role ethanol plays in uplifting rural communities and decarbonizing our transportation sector. Representative Craig couldn’t join the conference in person but provided pre-recorded remarks for the conference attendees.

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