#RFANEC Panel on Marketing Higher Ethanol Blends

nec16-sheetzA really interesting session on getting more higher ethanol blends in the retail market unfortunately got cut a little short at the National Ethanol Conference this week due to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack’s visit, but you can listen to the presentations by two industry leaders here.

Pennsylvania-based Sheetz, Inc. is a family-owned chain of gas station/convenience stores located in six states. Michael Lorenz, Sheetz executive vice president of petroleum supply, says they made a commitment last year to put E15 in 60 North Carolina stores. “We’re currently actually in 34 stores, so it’s kind of a dubious honor but we’re the single largest retailer of E15 in the country,” said Lorenz to applause. “We also plan to do another 100 locations in four other states.”

In his presentation, Lorenz talks about why they chose to start in North Carolina, why the believe in E15, and how they are educating consumers about the fuel. Michael Lorenz of Sheetz at NEC16

nec16-protecThe job of Protec Fuel is to help retailers like Sheetz get the infrastructure they need to offer higher ethanol blends to consumers.

“We do station infrastructure and conversion, we handle E85 and E15 blending, we handle all the full logistics for them,” said Protec CEO Todd Garner. “So, essentially it’s a turnkey operation that allows the retailer to really not have to lift a finger to use E85 and E15.”

Garner was okay with having to give up some of his time on the program to accommodate Secretary Vilsack, since it is thanks to USDA’s Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) that they are being able to help more retailers offer higher ethanol blends. “We estimate about an extra 215 stations that we’re going to include into our existing infrastructure, which equates to about another 1000 dispensers that we will install over the next year or so,” said Garner.

Listen to Garner’s presentation here: Protec CEO Todd Garner at NEC16

View the Protec Fuel powerpoint presentation.

2016 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

Funds Available for Blender Pumps in Iowa

blender-pump-iowaIowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today announced that funds are now available through the new “Fueling Our Future 100” initiative and interested retailers in Iowa can apply for cost share funding to assist with the purchase and installation of blender pumps and underground storage tank (UST) infrastructure for higher blends of ethanol.

“We continue to see that when consumers have a choice at the pump they will choose to increase the amount of clean burning, homegrown renewable fuels they use,” said Northey. “Through this program we will see a total investment of $10 million to help build the renewable fuels infrastructure in the state.”

Iowa received a $5 million grant from the USDA Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) program to support the initiative which will be matched by non-federal funds, including $2.5 million from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program (RFIP). The fueling sites applying for assistance will also be required to provide a minimum of $2.5 million.

“Thanks to the USDA’s blender pump program, Iowans will now be able to benefit from the wider availability of E15 and E85,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Managing Director Lucy Norton. “More blender pumps in Iowa means more competition at the pump, resulting in even lower fuel prices, better air quality and stronger energy security.”

ProtecFuel and the IRFA will be hosting a free retailer workshop on Monday, December 7 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to assist retailers in understanding and applying for grant funding. For more information and to register for the free retailer workshop, please visit: www.IowaRFA.org/ProtecWorkshop.

Florida Station Promotes Higher #Ethanol Blends

protec-citgo-signThe prices for higher ethanol blends at the Citgo Gas Station on John Young Parkway in Kissimmee are low normally, but Friday they were even lower as the retailer continued to celebrate the ability to offer lower cost fuel to consumers.

Motorists who might have been in town for a weekend at the theme parks were able to fill up Friday for an additional discount on the E15 ethanol blend fuel of $.15, OR for $.85 off E85 Flex-Fuel, a fuel for Flex-Fuel gasoline engines.

Station owner Paul Przychocki of Mid-State Energy has worked to offer higher ethanol blends at his retail outlets because he is a big believer in the fuel. “I personally use it in my vehicle,” he said, noting that he drives a 2011 model that can use E15. “It’s put Americans back to work and (helped us) get away from foreign oil that unfortunately we have to supply in America.”

Przychocki partnered with Protec Fuel to install the new pumps at the Kissimmee station with the help of USDA Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership funding. Here’s an interview with Przychocki when the partnership was announced. Interview with Paul Przychocki, Mid-State Energy

#Ethanol Blends Help Consumers and Retailers

protec-citgo-signThe price sign at the Citgo station in Kissimmee Wednesday told the real story of how higher ethanol blends can save consumers money at the pump and it helps the retailers as well.

“It’s been a great thing for us,” said Paul Przychocki of Mid-State Energy, which owns the Kissimmee station and several others. “This store is considerably up over last year, in the last 4-5 months since we put the E85/E15 combination in.”

Przychocki partnered with Protec Fuel to install the new pumps at the Kissimmee station with the help of USDA Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership funding. “This is the third site that we’ve done with Protec and every time we’ve done a site it’s taken off,” he said.

Listen to an interview with Przychocki here: Interview with Paul Przychocki, Mid-State Energy

Protec Fuel's Steve Walk, Citgo station owner Paul Przychocki, and Protec CEO Todd Garner

Protec Fuel’s Steve Walk, Citgo station owner Paul Przychocki, and Protec CEO Todd Garner

Protec Fuel CEO Todd Garner says they are happy to help retailers like Przychocki bring higher ethanol blends to consumers. “We’ve been doing this since 2006, since the original RFS, and trying to get higher blend ethanol out to our customer base,” he said. That’s why they are so pleased with the USDA grant funding announced this week in Kissimmee. “It costs the stations a lot of money and we’re fortunate that the government and USDA have taken the initiative to allow consumers to participate in lower cost, higher blend fuels,” said Garner.

Garner says continued support for the Renewable Fuel Standard is crucial to increase market penetration for renewable fuels. “It’s really important because it’s going to allow us to beat that blend wall,” he said. “I think we just need to come to a middle ground and make both sides fairly happy because ultimately the consumer is going to benefit.”

Listen to my interview with Todd here: Interview with Protec Fuel CEO Todd Garner

USDA-Protec Fuel Biofuel Pump Funding Announcement photos

USDA Taking Apps for Biofuels Infrastructure Funding

USDA logoUSDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) is now accepting applications in 50 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. for up to $100 million in grants under the Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership (BIP). The funding is to support the infrastructure needed to make more renewable fuel options available to American consumers. The Farm Service Agency will administer BIP.

Through BIP, USDA will award competitive grants, matched by states, to expand the infrastructure for distribution of higher blends of renewable fuel. These competitive grants are available to assist states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. with infrastructure funding. States that offer funding equal to or greater than that provided by the federal government will receive higher consideration for grant funds. States may work with private entities to enhance their offer.

CCC funds must be used to pay a portion of the costs related to the installation of fuel pumps and related infrastructure dedicated to the distribution of higher ethanol blends, for example E15 and E85, at vehicle fueling locations. The matching contributions may be used for these items or for related costs such as additional infrastructure to support pumps, marketing, education, data collection, program evaluation and administrative costs.

This new investment seeks to double the number of fuel pumps capable of supplying higher blends of renewable fuel to consumers. This will expand markets for farmers, support rural economic growth and the jobs that come with it, and ultimately give consumers more choices at the pump.

ACE Retailer Roundtable

ace14-retailersTwo fuel retailers took the stage at the American Coalition for Ethanol conference last week in Minneapolis to talk about the trials and rewards of offering their customers a real choice at the pump.

Bruce Vollan (left) of Midway Service in Baltic, SD and Kent Satrang, CEO of Petro Serve USA in North Dakota, shared their stories of why they installed blender pumps at their locations.

“We’re about seven years of having our blender pumps in place,” said Vollan. “It was an ideal time for us to make a change as a small town business.” And, he added, it has grown that business exponentially.

“We’re a Farmers Union oil company,” Satrang said. “We are owned by farmers, so they would like us to sell their fuel.” Beyond that, he just wants to offer his customers a choice.

Both of them also talked about the costs involved in putting in the pumps and offering higher blends and what it has ultimately meant to their communities. Listen to their conversation here: ACE Retailer Roundtable

27th Annual Ethanol Conference photo album

Future for Ethanol Blends

ace14-lambertyGetting higher blends of ethanol in the marketplace continues to be frustrating, even with the approval of E15 (15% ethanol).

The biggest problem continues to be roadblocks by oil companies, according to American Coalition for Ethanol Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty, who compared the sale and use of E15 to premium gasoline. “If you total (all the) vehicles that could use E15, we’re closing in on 15 million vehicles,” said Lamberty, which is 20% of the vehicles on the road. In contrast, about 12% of total cars are supposed to use premium gas, according to their owners manuals, but only 3% of the gas sold is premium. “Oil companies demand that marketers put premium in their stations … oil companies ban E15 sales,” said Lamberty. Ron Lamberty, ACE Senior VP

ace14-drakeFollowing Lamberty at the ACE annual conference this week, Dean Drake of the DeFour Group talked about the next chapter for ethanol blend fuels.

Drake, who spent 34 years with General Motors, says increasing ethanol blends will require significant cooperation between automakers, government, and the ethanol industry. “Neither oil nor ethanol by themselves are a perfect transportation fuel, largely because of octane,” said Drake. “Gasoline is the king when it comes to energy density, but it also has a fairly low octane rating. Ethanol, while having less energy, has a very high octane rating.”

He talked about the potential for what he calls “eco-performance” fuels. “What we’re talking about here is a fuel that would be widely available that would allow auto manufacturers to build advanced vehicles,” he said.

Learn more here: Dean Drake, DeFour Group

27th Annual Ethanol Conference photo album

New Biofuel Station Coming to Inwood, Iowa

A new biofuel station will soon be coming to Inwood, Iowa. Oak Street Station, when completed, will offer higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel to motorists. More specifically, the station will offer ethanol blends E10, E15, E30 and E85, as well as biodiesel blends B5 and B99.9 for independent jobbers and special use customers.

Flex Fuel pump “We’re excited to have received a ‘Fueling Our Future’ grant that will enable us to grow our business and offer unique, locally-produced, clean-burning renewable fuels to Inwood motorists,” said Oak Street Station Accountant Lisa Van Regenmorter. “This funding will allow us to put in the infrastructure to offer higher blends of renewable fuels that are not currently available in the area.”

Oak Street Station was selected to receive $125,000 in funding for the new site from Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s “Fueling Our Future” program, administered by the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS).

“We congratulate Oak Street Station on becoming a center for renewable fuels by offering some of the highest levels of ethanol and biodiesel available in Northwest Iowa,” added Iowa Renewable Fuel Association (IRFA) Managing Director Lucy Norton. “This innovative approach will keep Iowa in the forefront of the biofuels revolution and provide motorists with greater access to the cleanest, lowest-cost fuels available.”

The new fueling site will feature three ethanol blender pumps and five biodiesel fueling positions, in addition to a vehicle service center and convenience store. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer, with completion expected in January 2015.

Brazilian Mid-Level Ethanol Blends Beneficial

According to a recent report published in Nature Geoscience, when drivers in Sao Paulo switched from ethanol to pure gasoline, there was a 20 percent reduction in local ozone levels in urban areas. However, all gasoline in Brazil is blended with ethanol and upon further review, the report actually showed that using med-level ethanol blends (E25) ozone levels improved.

Steve Vander Griend, with Urban Air Initiative, explained how this is the case. Unlike in the United States, Brazil has two legal fuels: E25 (25 percent ethanol and 75 percent gasoline) and E100 (95 percent ethanol and 5 percent water), better known as hydrous ethanol. Nearly all vehicles sold in Brazil are flex fuel and can use any ethanol blend. Under Brazil’s model, drivers can “choose” their blend of ethanol from E25 up to E100 based on price.

Vander Griend explained that ozone emissions are highest with pure gasoline and also hydrous ethanol. However, emissions are reduced when you add ethanol to gasoline, aka a mid-level ethanol blend such as E15 or E30, blends sold in the U.S. This is why this study found that Brazil saw ozone emissions improve when drivers started using E25 instead of hydrous ethanol (E100). Therefore, said Vander Griend, the notable results of this study are that mid-level ethanol blends do in fact improve ozone emissions.

Sao Paulo gas stationWith 70 percent of Brazilian fuel being E25 during the time frame of this study, the study actually demonstrated Brazil has one of the cleanest burning fuels available, continued Vander Griend, and it also highlighted the value of mid-level ethanol blends.

So why are people being led to believe that ethanol is harmful to the environment? Vander Griend said because you can’t buy pure gasoline in Brazil, when authors refer to gasoline they are really referring to E25 making it appear that the authors studied pure gasoline versus ethanol and this is not the case. With reporters and others not digging into and understanding the study, they are ultimately mis-reporting the facts of the study, added Vander Griend.

The bottom line, said Vander Griend, is that mid-level blends of ethanol have been proven to decrease emissions, and if the U.S. is serious about taking the necessary steps to reduce harmful emissions, it is time that mid-level ethanol blends are offered to consumers.

“Not only will consumers benefit from the availability of a choice and savings at the pump, but when they choose the less expensive, homegrown fuel, they will also be decreasing harmful emissions that are detrimental to our children and future generations,” Vander Griend concluded.

Iowans Increase Use of Higher Blends of Renewables

New data from the Iowa Department of Revenue shows major growth in the use of Iowa Dept of Revenue Logohigher-level blends of ethanol and biodiesel in 2013. The report showed 2013 sales of pure biodiesel (B100) increased 24 percent over 2012, setting a new record of 28.9 million gallons. Biodiesel also saw a 21 percent increase in blended gallons sold, with immense growth in B10 (a fuel blend containing 10 percent biodiesel). Sales of B10 increased by nearly 121 percent, from 32.8 million gallons sold in 2012 to more than 72.4 million gallons sold in 2013. Nearly half of the diesel sold in Iowa is now blended with biodiesel.

The report also showed sales of mid-level ethanol blends, from E15 to E69, increased more than 158 percent in 2013, totaling more than 5.4 million gallons sold. Sales of E85 also hit an all-time high with more than 11.1 million gallons sold, an increase of 18 percent over 2012.

“Iowa motorists and retailers showed a serious commitment to higher-level ethanol and biodiesel blends in 2013,” said Monte Shaw, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) executive director. “The biodiesel sector realized the most growth, with retail locations moving away from low-level blends like B2 to offer consumers B5, B10, and B20. This shows biodiesel is a proven, high-quality fuel and consumers will choose it when offered.”

Shaw added, “Across the board increases in the use of ethanol blends above E10 prove, despite the petroleum industry’s well-funded scare campaign, consumers prefer low-cost, homegrown ethanol. The EPA’s proposal to slash 2014 targets under the Renewable Fuel Standard would be detrimental to the great progress we’ve made improving air quality and increasing our energy security through domestically produced, less expensive ethanol and biodiesel blends.”