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

BIP Announcement Welcome News by Ethanol Industry

This week Big Oil launched yet another anti-RFS campaign and has also been calling for an end to programs that support the development of biofuel infrastructure. As such, it was welcomed news this week when USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced while at a Protec Fuel station in Florida, $100 million in funding to increase retail pumps for higher ethanol blends in 21 states through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP). Private partners have matched the funding 1 to 1 with another $100 million in commitments.

USDA BIP Announcement at Protec Fuel stationRon Lamberty, American Coalition for Ethanol’s senior vice president was happy to hear the news as well as shared support for Protec who has been a leader in the southeast in bringing higher ethanol blends to drivers.

“This is a great day for petroleum marketers who want to offer cleaner fuels, and an even better day for drivers, who will save money with more biofuel options at the pump,” said Lamberty. “The USDA-BIP program funds will assist station owners who want to stand out from the competition and offer fuel blends like E15 and E85 to consumers. Making higher ethanol blends available in more stations from coast to coast has been a priority of Secretary Vilsack, and this program does that, by offering funds to retailers from Pennsylvania to Texas, and from Florida to Colorado.”

Once such matching infrastructure program is the Prime the Pump Fund. Organizers of the campaign thanked USDA for their commitment to helping drivers have access to cleaner, greener domestically produced fuels.

“The investment the USDA and other industries are making to give consumers more choices at the pump goes a long way to break Big Oil’s stranglehold on the fuel market,” said Ray Defenbaugh, chairman of the Prime the Pump Fund following the BIP announcement.  “America’s farmers and biofuel producers can provide a cleaner, greener, higher octane fuel that actually lowers the price of gasoline at the pump. We’re now seeing several of the nation’s leading fuel retailers making these fuel blends available to consumers and these USDA funds will help to make this continue to happen. I would like to thank the USDA and specifically Secretary Vilsack for their leadership and commitment to rural America.”

View the USDA-Protec Fuel Biofuel Pump Funding Announcement photo album.


USDA Announces Biofuels Infrastructure Funds

vilsack-protecAgriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was at a Citgo station in Kissimmee, Florida today to announce a USDA partnership to increase fueling pumps for biofuels in 21 states through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP).

The investment will nearly double the number of fueling pumps nationwide that supply renewable fuels to American motorists. “The Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership is one more example of how federal funds can be leveraged by state and private partners to deliver better and farther reaching outcomes for taxpayers,” said Vilsack.

The 21 states participating in the BIP include Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The final awards being announced today are estimated to expand infrastructure by nearly 5,000 pumps at over 1,400 fueling stations.

Vilsack was joined by representatives from Growth Energy and Florida-based Protec Fuel to make the announcement. “We’re very excited about this USDA program because we’re going to be opening up sites in other parts of Florida, as well as across the country,” said Protec Fuel VP of Operations and Business Development Steve Walk. “What this program is going to help us do is help speed up the growth” of stations offering higher ethanol blends.

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis congratulated Protec Fuel and thanked Secretary Vilsack for his support of renewable fuels. “The Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership is helping us to further leverage industry funds to gain measurable market access in a far timelier manner than we could accomplish otherwise,” said Buis.”

Listen to remarks from Walk, Buis and Vilsack here: Secretary Vilsack announces biofuels infrastructure funding

Vilsack remarks to the media: Secretary Vilsack comments on Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership

USDA-Protec Fuel Biofuel Pump Funding Announcement photos

Growth’s Kelly Manning Shares ‘All Things Ethanol’

Growth Energy's Kelly Manning brings out the 'big guns" during his all things ethanol interview with DF blogger Joanna Schroeder.

Growth Energy’s Kelly Manning brings out the ‘big guns” during his all things ethanol interview with DF blogger Joanna Schroeder.

Growth Energy’s Kelly Manning, vice president of development, shared all things ethanol with me during the #FarmProgressShow in Decatur, Illinois and it was great to catch up after a year of the organization fighting the good fight with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to keep the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) going forward. But this was not the focal point of our conversation; rather, Manning gave me updates on all the consumer and retailer education and infrastructure development they are doing around the country about ethanol.

For all the anti-ethanol boaters out there, Manning told us about Don Onken, a farmer from Illinois, who broke the speed record with his American Ethanol Mystic catamaran, topping out at speeds of 208 mph. Manning said Onken is a passionate supporter of ethanol and passionate about speed so he put the two together. His boat runs on four engines, all powered with 90 percent ethanol. Manning said that no matter what you read, ethanol is safe to use with boats and encourages people to get the facts and they would like to work with the boating industry to discuss the safety of ethanol and boats.

On to E15. Just this week all drivers of vehicles newer than 2001 can use E15 again. The industry has been working to change this so that drivers can use the ethanol blend year round. Manning noted that two years ago the conversations they were having with retailers were quite different than the conversations they are having now. He explained that E15 is “More economical at the pump overall. It’s saves them money. It drives store traffic. We have retailers who are seeing thirty percent jumps on their inside sales.”

Manning also said that the Prime the Pump program has been successful in expanding ethanol blends and today there are 23 states offering consumers E15 at the pump. Also helping is large retailers offering E15. But in terms of the issue with EPA, Manning said that this is a high priority for retailers and many have joined Growth’s advocacy efforts with the EPA to resolve this issue and allow E15 sales year round. (It’s a RVP, or Reid Vapor Pressure Issue).  He encouraged consumers to let retailers know they want the fuel, and, Fiat, the last auto manufacturer hold-out has endorsed E15.

Other topics of discussion included flex pumps (ethanol blends such as E30, E40 and E85), rolling out an auto dealership education program and the success of the NASCAR program and the new NASCAR-branded ethanol labels at the pump.

To learn more about ‘All Things Ethanol’ listen to my interview with Kelly Manning: Interview with Kelly Manning, Growth Energy

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

E15 Offered in Iowa, Again

E15 is being sold to consumers across Iowa who drive vehicles newer than 2001, again. The ethanol blend, that was still sold to flex-fuel vehicle drivers during the summer months, is not allowed to be sold in the state June 1-September 15, an issue that the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) has been working to eliminate.

“E15 is the lowest-cost fuel for the vast majority of Iowans on the road today, and we’re excited 2001 and newer vehicle owners across the state can once again reap the benefits of E15,” said IRFA Managing Director Lucy Norton. “With millions of miles already driven on E15, Iowa motorists can choose E15 with confidence, knowing it’s a safe, economical fueling option that provides nearly identical fuel economy to E10.”

E15 pump at Kum and Go

The label on an E15 pump at a Kum & Go retail station in Des Moines, IA when only FFVs drivers can legally fill up their tanks with E15 during the summer months. Photo: Joanna Schroeder

The halt of sales is due to a quirk in federal regulation. The EPA has yet to equalize the vapor pressure regulations for E10 and E15 during the summer driving season, from June 1 through September 15. As a result, the sale of E15 in Iowa is restricted to flex-fuel vehicles only during that timeframe. To re-introduce E15 into the marketplace in Iowa, the IRFA is kicking-off a consumer education campaign to inform motorists of the benefits of E15.

“There’s loads of interest in E15 among Iowa drivers, and quite a bit of misinformation out there, so we’re doing our part to educate motorists on the benefits of this more American-made fuel,” Norton added. “IRFA staff and ethanol supporters will be at many Iowa E15 stations over the next few weeks, talking with drivers about cleaner-burning E15, while many stations offer special E15 discounts.”

IRFA’s E15 consumer education program starts September 18, 2015 with events at Murphy USA in Indianola, Iowa and Good & Quick in Nevada, Iowa. Murphy USA, located at 1502 N. Jefferson St. in Indianola, Iowa, will offer E15 to 2001 and newer vehicles at a 75-cent per gallon discount to 87-octane E10 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Good & Quick, located at 519 Lincoln Highway in Nevada, Iowa, will offer registered E15 for a 15-cent per gallon discount from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Additionally, Cenex Ampride in Eagle Grove and Fort Dodge, Iowa, will host consumer education events on September 22. Supplementary consumer education events will be announced in the near future.

Farmers Cooperative Hosting Grand Opening

FClogo_bigFarmers Cooperative Company, in conjunction with the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), will be holding a Grand Opening event Tuesday, September 22nd to promote their new biofuel offerings. The Mount Ayr location (400 East South Street Mount Ayr, IA) will offer E15 for $1.15 per gallon and E85 for $.85 per gallon from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. A free lunch will also be served to those who fill up with biofuels.

The retail station is also selling biodiesel blends including B5, B11 B20, B30 and B99.

“Thanks to Farmers Cooperative Company and Governor Branstad’s ‘Fueling Our Future’ program, Mount Ayr-area motorists will now have a wide range of cleaner-burning fuel choices when it comes to ethanol and biodiesel blends,” said IRFA Managing Director Lucy Norton. “Not only will nearby motorists benefit from E15, the lowest-cost fuel for the vast majority of vehicles on the road, diesel customers will be able to take advantage of increased fuel lubricity from more environmentally-friendly biodiesel blends, like B20.”

Algenol’s Algae-based Ethanol to Be Sold Via Protec

Protec Fuel Management has taken another innovative route to bring ethanol to consumers. The company has signed an agreement to market and distribute Algenol Biotech’s algae-based ethanol being produced in Fort Myers, Florida. In addition, Protec will purchase 18 million gallons per year from Algenol’s commercial plant expected to be online in 2016 and distribute the fuel as E15 and E85 in both retail stations for consumers and stations dedicated to fleets.

Algenol makes ethanol from algae“This alliance is a logical step for Algenol as our commercial fuels are coming on-line,” said Algenol Founder and CEO Paul Woods. “We are excited about partnering with a successful, innovative renewable fuels distributor, who is knowledgeable in the regional and Florida ethanol market and has the expertise and relationships to grow the partnership nationally.”

According to Algenol, the partnership will enable them to leverage Protec’s established network of retail clients for the distribution of Algenol’s E85, E15 and other advanced biofuels. While the partnership will initially focus on Florida, the agreement provides for expansion into a national partnership scope as Algenol develops projects in other markets. Algenol’s Florida-based production facilities will provide both parties and their customers with a substantial margin advantage versus fuels shipped from out-of-state.

“We know that advanced ethanol is a key element of the future of fuels, and we are excited to partner with Algenol, the leader in the development of algae-based fuels,” added Todd Garner, CEO, Protec Fuel. “The key components and priority of ethanol’s use are sustainability, cleaner air, and to provide the public with lower-cost fuel,” he said. “To be able to offer a fuel that can accomplish the three key components only bolsters this advanced biofuel’s future.”

This agreement follows a series of successful commercialization milestones achieved by Algenol, which include its pathway approval by the EPA in December 2014, its organism approval by both the state of Florida and by the EPA in the same year, and the June 2015 completion of its 2-acre commercial demonstration module funded in part by a $25 million DOE Recovery Act grant. Algenol is producing ethanol meeting the D4806 ASTM specifications on a daily basis, and it can be sold commercially as E85.

Illinois Corn Working to Support #Ethanol, E15

Ken Hartman-2I stopped by the Illinois Corn booth during the Farm Progress Show and had the opportunity to speak with Kenneth Hartman, an Illinois corn, soybean and wheat grower. He gave me an update on the their efforts to increase mid-level ethanol blends across the state. One such initiative is working with key players in Chicago to get 150 E15 stations up and running in the city. A piece of legislation is sitting with the Alderman and the mayor and Hartman hopes Mayor Rahm Emanuel will sign on the line for the E15 roll out yet this year.

Speaking of E15, Harmann said they are working with retailers across the state to build the infrastructure. They have been working with the American Lung Association and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board has allocated money to help with infrastructure through the Prime The Pump program. This program, he noted, provides matching funds for USDA’s BIP program. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced the allocation of $100 million in program funds.

Other initiatives include working with pump manufacturers to get equipment standardized and approved for E15 as well as consumer education.

To learn more about Illinois Corn’s ethanol initiatives, listen to my interview with Ken Hartman: Ken Hartman, Illinois Corn Interview

Check out the Farm Progress Show photo album.

USDA Applauded for Biofuel Infrastructure Support

Photo Credit Joanna Schroeder

Photo Credit Joanna Schroeder

This morning, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement that 21 states will receive grants through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) to help provide access to more renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. In response, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) applauded USDA for expanding its efforts to provide consumers with fuel choice at the pump through expanded ethanol blends. The program will help retail station owners pay for equipment they may need to offer higher ethanol blends such as E85.

“Secretary Vilsack has worked tirelessly to see that his vision of 10,000 blender pumps across the nation becomes reality, and the Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership is another great example of his commitment to expanding markets for farmers’ products,” said ACE Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty whose organization works with retailers and provide assistance through their FlexFuelForward website.

“BIP is a matching grant program, which means USDA also challenged states and ethanol supporters to step up and make equal or greater amounts of infrastructure funding available to station owners. The intended result is nearly a quarter of a billion dollars petroleum marketers can use to buy equipment and offer more ethanol blends to consumers. In many cases, station owners will pay little or nothing to add state-of-the-art blender dispensers and other equipment they may need to sell flex fuels and E15. We encourage retailers to apply for funding assistance through the appropriate state agencies,” Lamberty added.

Growth Energy also praised the USDA with CEO Tom Buis noting that the announcement is a “tremendous win” for American consumers. “It is unfortunate that the obligated parties refuse to follow the law and blend increasing amounts of renewable fuel,” said Buis, “but the steps by the administration and Secretary Vilsack will ensure higher ethanol blends, such as E15, penetrate the marketplace, and provide consumers with a choice and savings they deserve.” Continue reading