Today some retail stations are offering E85 (for use in flex fuel vehicle only) at more than $1.00 per gallon less than regular unleaded and these retail stations are seeing E85 sales soar. One reason these stations are able to sell the fuel at such a competitive price is because some of suppliers are passing along RIN values.
Fast Stop in Cresco, Iowa has reported that in the first two weeks of August, E85 sales have made up 45 percent of its total gasoline sales. With strong E85 and E30 sales, pure ethanol accounted for an amazing 42 percent of Fast Stop’s total liquid gallons sold over the two week period. The level is more than four times the so-called E10 blend wall.
“Finding a supply of E85 that reflected the RIN savings was the key – that’s when E85 sales just took off,” said Dave Sovereign, part owner of the station. “We tried to get other retailers in our area to offer higher ethanol blends. When they wouldn’t, a group of us decided to build our own station and put in a blender pump. It’s been a great investment – not just for us, but for motorists as well.”
“Fast Stop has become a magnet for flexible fuel vehicle owners in the area,” continued Sovereign. “Consumers are ready and willing to purchase higher ethanol blends; retailers just need to make them available and price them right.”
Fast Stop dispenses fuel using a blender pump, which allows the station to offer E0 (no ethanol), E10, E15, E20, E30, and E85. The station blends E85 and regular unleaded to offer consumers the choice between a variety of ethanol blended fuels; therefore, the lower E85 prices have benefited all ethanol blend levels. When sales of all fuels are averaged, ethanol accounts for 42% of the volume.
RINs, or renewable identification numbers, are credits attached to each gallon of ethanol in order to track compliance with the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The ethanol blender can sell the RIN to refiners that choose not to blend enough ethanol on their own.
“When you see what Fast Stop in Cresco has done there’s only one question – what blend wall?” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Fast Stop’s real world sales data confirms the federal RFS is working as intended. Despite Big Oil’s rhetoric, there is no blend wall and retailers like Fast Stop are proving it. Given a chance, consumers will choose lower priced, cleaner burning ethanol. Big Oil is attacking the RFS not because it is broken, but because the RFS is working.”