Iowans have purchased a record number of gallons of E85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gas) in 2013. According to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), total E85 sales in 2013 reached 10,854,117 gallons, up nearly 20 percent from 2012 and an increase of more than 130,000 gallons from the previous record in 2011. The sales figures were reported by the Iowa Department of Revenue. E85 sales in Iowa finished strong in 2013 setting a fourth quarter record at 2,784,326 gallons, up more than 67 percent from fourth quarter 2012 and an increase of more than 700,000 gallons from the previous fourth quarter record in 2010.
To learn more about Iowans choice of ethanol blends, I spoke this afternoon with Grant Menke, policy director for IRFA. My first question: how much more can we do with E85 and higher blends of ethanol in Iowa. “We can do a whole lot more,” answered Menke. Iowa is a 1.5 billion to 1.6 billion gallon gasoline market and the state is at 11 million gallons for E85. “So there is clearly a lot of growth that needs to take place there. With a strong growing RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard) we really think this can happen.”
Menke noted that consumers who purchased E85 last year did so at very competitive prices. He said he remembers buying E85 during the third quarter at $1.10 per gallon less than a gallon of E10. He said ethanol is a homegrown fuel, good for the economy, good for farmers, and good for the environment. It’s a win-win-win. “If we can continue to price this fuel well, which the RFS allows us to do, we’re going to continue to break records in the future,” stressed Menke.
I asked Menke why it was so important to not only keep the RFS in tact, but moving forward. He noted that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) comment period for the 2014 RFS has been completed and the ball is now in the EPA and White House’s court. They have heard from tens of thousands of RFA supporters as to why a reduction in the RFS would be devastating to this industry: first generation, biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol. “If we want to continue to diversify our fuel supply with cleaner, homegrown, renewable fuels, we need a strong growing RFS,” added Menke.
IRFA aids retailers who want to offer consumers more choices at the pump, and noted that retailers who diversify their fuel offering (biodiesel, higher blends of ethanol) can have financial success in this space. Menke said they are hoping to break records in 2014.
Listen to my interview with Grant Menke here: Iowa E85 Sales Set Record in 2013