Ethanol provides consumers savings at the pump – especially when the retailer passes along the RIN (Renewable Identification Number) savings to their customers. No one knows this better than Dave Sovereign, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Golden Grain Energy, and owner and investor of Cresco Fast Stop in Cresco, Iowa. I was able to sit down with Sovereign during the 29th annual Ethanol Conference and we first spoke about the evolution of the Cresco Fast Stop.
Sovereign explained that when he, along with 28 other investors, were unable to persuade a local retail station to offer mid-level and higher level blends of ethanol, such as E15, E30 and E85, they decided to build their own ethanol station. The dream became reality in 2012 with the help of some grants, and today the station offers E10, E15, E20, E30 and E85. They also sell biodiesel – B5 and B10.
“And our numbers show, when you pass on the RIN value to the customers, there is no blend wall,” said Sovereign. “Over 30 percent of our sales are E85, and almost 30 percent of our sales are E30. We’re selling 10 percent of our sales as E15 (not allowed to see E15 June 1 through September 15th). We’re very pleased. Two-thirds of our gasoline sales are blends higher than the standard E10.”
Of interest is that when Cresco Fast Stop first opened for business, the station purchased its fuel through a distributor. But the next year the station began purchasing its ethanol direct from Absolute Energy. Sovereign said that he is also on the board of directors for Absolute Energy and the board began discussing how the RIN values were not being passed along in many cases to consumers.
“And we felt that in order to really increase sales of our product and to showcase ethanol and what a great product it is, we felt we needed the price to be competitive and actually buy our way into the market,” Sovereign explained. “This seemed like a really good opportunity for Absolute Energy to make that investment and for stations to get on board with the program. And I believe a lot of stations who are buying direct from the plant are in fact passing along the RIN value back to their customers and that’s driving sales.”
To learn more about the benefits of selling ethanol blends and the opportunities for retailers to purchase ethanol direct from an ethanol plant, listen to my interview with Dave Sovereign here: Interview with Dave Sovereign