Analysis Finds Summer E15 Saved Drivers Millions

Cindy Zimmerman

A new analysis from the Renewable Fuels Association finds that allowing summer sales of E15 this year extended gasoline supplies at a critical time and saved Americans millions at the pump.

RFA Chief Economist Scott Richman found that an additional 194 million gallons (mg) of E15 were sold during the summer as a result of the Biden administration’s emergency waivers, saving American consumers approximately $57 million. Richman’s calculations are based on Minnesota numbers since it is the only state that reports monthly E15 sales volumes. In addition, the savings were adjusted for the fuel economy of E15 versus E10, which is about 1.3% lower.

Moreover, the waiver came at a critical time. In mid-June, the national average price of gasoline hit $5/gallon for the first time. Refineries were operating at very high utilization rates, making E15 a particularly effective option since ethanol is produced at facilities across the Midwest and is blended to produce finished gasoline close to the consumer, whereas additional crude oil processing was constrained by the tight refinery capacity.

Given that 16 percent of the stations offering E15 in the U.S. are located in Minnesota, it is estimated that 167 mg were sold nationally as a result of the waivers. Prorating this through September 15 (i.e., the end of the summer volatility control period), total additional summertime E15 sales due to the waivers are estimated to have reached 194 mg. This estimate may be conservative, as E15 retail stations outside of Minnesota may have higher actual daily sales volumes than Minnesota stations.

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