EcoEngineers RIN program manages 300 MMgy of biodiesel capacity

By Jim Baker, EcoEngineers | October 03, 2012

Last October, EcoEngineers unveiled its RIN Quality Assurance Program to address RIN fraud that was destabilizing biodiesel RIN markets. At that time, the idea of a RIN QAP was unheard of, and many in the industry did not believe it was possible to monitor biofuel production and validate RIN generations.

Now, the EcoEngineers RIN QAP has more than 300 million gallons of biodiesel production capacity under management, just one year after launching the program. The EcoEngineers RIN management platform transacts more than 2 million RINs daily.

With 30 producers now enrolled in its RIN QAP, the EcoEngineers quality assurance program is the largest program of its kind in the renewable fuel industry. “We believed from the beginning there would be a need for this service,” said EcoEngineers partner Jim Ramm, a professional engineer. “But it has grown far beyond our expectations in a very short time.”

Features of the EcoEngineers QAP include batch-level review and reports available to downstream parties, quarterly reports, engineering reviews, registration and annual attests. And all features are available for advanced biofuel and foreign production.  

Development of the EcoEngineers RIN QAP is a classic tale of the right man in the right place at the right time. After more than 20 years of experience in the petroleum and biofuel industries, much of it working in quality assurance, Ramm decided to devote all his energies to renewable energy after RFS2 was promulgated in 2010.

Ramm, along with his partner, Shashi Menon, started EcoEngineers with an offering of core compliance services, including comprehensive RIN management, third-party engineering reviews, and design-and-build consulting to early customers in 2010.

In 2011, after RIN markets were rocked by fraud issues, the RIN QAP was added to the list of EcoEngineers’ offerings with input from obligated parties, blenders and producers. “Our intention from the beginning was to build something that served everyone in the industry,” Ramm said. “We wanted to level the playing field, build a level of trust for all participants, and ensure integrity throughout the system.”

Understanding that RINs play a dual role in the success of RFS2 was an important step. One role was their function as a renewable fuel credit to incentivize renewable fuel production and use. The other was as a tracking mechanism to monitor production, movement and blending of biofuels.

For successful implementation, Ramm knew the program had to operate with the perspective that RINs must function as compliance currency to have actual market value.

The EcoEngineers QAP is thorough and nonintrusive. All tracking and management is done through an interactive software platform monitored at both EcoEngineers’ offices in Des Moines, Iowa, and the producer's site.

The process begins with a review of feedstock purchases and feedstock origin. From there, the program follows a path that includes reactant verification, process energy review, mass balance and energy balance, and fuel quality review. It is able to offer batch-level verification of biofuel production along with periodic audits and site visits.

As the biofuel community anticipates new EPA policies offering an “affirmative defense” for RINs vetted by a RIN QAP, EcoEngineers has quickly become the industry leader for process and quality standards. The comprehensive EcoEngineers program monitors biofuel production in accordance with EPA requirements without disrupting daily production cycles with intrusive equipment or procedures.

The process, according to Ramm, “sends a clear message to RIN markets that your operations meet RFS2 RIN quality standards.” And since it appears that regulations and RIN markets will require a RIN QAP at producer facilities, EcoEngineers’ monitoring reports are smoothing distrust in RIN markets.

The latest trend is the possibility of securing RIN insurance—an indemnification that RINs purchased will be replaced and all liability removed. EcoEngineers is again on the forefront of this new development. As regulations or industry requires it, the company is in a position to begin offering such protection to RINs it monitors.

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