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