SAN DIEGO — In recognition as one of the pioneers in the ethanol industry and co-founder of California's first ethanol production company, Pacific Ethanol CEO Neil Koehler is the recipient of the RFA 2017 Industry Award. The Industry Award is given annually to individuals that demonstrate great dedication and innovation within the industry. Koehler, who is also vice chairman of the RFA board of directors, was presented the award this morning during the 22nd Annual National Ethanol Conference (NEC). Koehler was the co-founder and general manager of Parallel Products, California's first ethanol production company, which made ethanol from beverage waste. He also founded Kinergy Marketing, an ethanol marketing company before forming Pacific Ethanol in 2003. Pacific Ethanol's initial focus was on destination ethanol plants, building facilities on the U.S. West Coast, not in the traditional Midwest where the corn is grown. The company now owns eight biorefineries — in Oregon, Idaho, California, Nebraska and Illinois — with a combined production capacity of 515 million gallons per year. As CEO of Pacific Ethanol, Koehler has embraced cutting edge technologies to improve efficiencies and reduce the company's carbon footprint. Pacific Ethanol was one of the first companies to begin producing cellulosic ethanol at its Stockton, California, plant in late 2015, and will be the first ethanol company to install a commercial solar electricity system at its Madera, California, ethanol plant. The company is a leader in the production of low carbon renewable fuels. "From Henry Ford to Jimmy Carter to Donald Trump, renewable fuels have been at the forefront of our country's transportation plan. I am fortunate and appreciative to be a part of something so fundamental and essential to community and our economy," said Koehler. 'Grow your own.' Farmers understand what that means. On behalf of all the hard working men and women ofÂ Pacific Ethanol and the thousands of individuals who have advanced the cause over the centuries, thank you." "Neil has been a longtime fixture in the U.S. ethanol industry and consistently been an early adopter of new technologies," said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. "Pacific Ethanol has helped to lead the industry in the transition to low carbon renewable fuels, and Neil has been one of our industry's best and most vocal advocates. On behalf of the RFA, we congratulate Neil on his achievements. This award is well deserved." Past recipients of the RFA Industry Award include Ron Fagen, Dave Vander Griend, Ron Miller and Terry Branstad.