RFA Acquires E85Prices.com

e85prices-comThe Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has acquired E85prices.com, which is a crowdsourced website that offers updated prices for E85 and other ethanol flex-fuels – including E15 – from thousands of stations across the country. In addition to E85prices.com, RFA acquired 11 new websites and a new mobile app to strengthen its online presence and its ability to provide up-to-the-minute information on the availability and pricing of E85 and other ethanol flex-fuels.

E85prices.com and E85vehicles.com are the most visited of the 12 new sites now owned by RFA, with E85prices.com receiving approximately 4 million hits last year. E85prices.com has been a go-to source for consumers seeking E85 pricing information to help make informed fuel purchase decisions. The website also maintains a station locator, a database of all existing E85 stations and blender pump locations, and an online forum. Meanwhile, E85vehicles.com helps consumers locate or identify a flex-fuel vehicle (FFV).

“As the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) continues to be discussed in Congress, and the 2014-2016 RFS requirements remain under consideration at Environmental Protection Agency, we believe it is more important than ever to provide concrete information to decision-makers about E85, E15, and other flex-fuels,” said RFA vice president of Industry Relations Robert White. “At the same time, consumers are looking for more information on renewable fuels, and these websites have provided that service to millions of unique visitors each year.”

In July of 2014, RFA cited E85prices.com when it called on the Department of Energy (DOE) to update their Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) database which was missing nearly 1,000 stations. RFA will continue its efforts to ensure all station databases reflect the real world, and will work with DOE to fix the current discrepancies in their database.

The information on E85prices.com is crowdsourced, but White says RFA will confirm all station locations and ensure they are offering higher-level fuel blends.

I caught up with White as he arrive in Phoenix for the start of the 2015 Commodity Classic and he explained how important this acquisition is for the industry and consumers.
Interview with Robert White, RFA, on E85Prices.com

Where RFA and EPA Disagree

nec15-dinneen-grundlerEPA Director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality Chris Grundler was sincere and apologetic during his appearance at the National Ethanol Conference last week, but he admits to having areas of disagreement with Renewable Fuels Association CEO Bob Dinneen.

“E15 will never realize its full potential until there is parity with regard to EPA volatility regulations for E10 and E15,” said Dinneen in his State of the Industry speech at the 20th annual ethanol conference. “To date, the Agency has rejected our efforts to secure parity, thereby ensuring that E15 is at best a seasonal fuel, a huge disincentive for marketers to adopt E15 at their stations.”

Asked about this issue by DomesticFuel, Grundler said, “That’s one of the areas that Bob and I have vigorous debates on, because I’m questioning how big a factor that is in terms of the slow uptake in E15.”

Grundler said parity is not an issue in regions where reformulated gasoline is required. “That accounts for between 30 and 40 percent of our fuel supply …. including places like Chicago,” he said, adding that governors have the ability to petition EPA to remove this one pound RVP waiver for their states but they “have received no such petitions.”

I also asked Grundler what he thought about Dinneen’s criticism of the EPA in his speech. “I didn’t think it was too harsh (but) I didn’t agree with everything he had to say,” said Grundler, adding that he thinks all stakeholders in this issue seem to overestimate EPA’s authority. “That’s where (Bob) and I differ. He thinks we can do some things that I don’t think we can,” he said.

Listen to Grundler’s answers to my questions here: EPA's Chris Grundler press questions

2015 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NASCAR Starts 5th Year on American Ethanol

american-ethanol-fuelFuel with 15 percent ethanol, known as E15, has been approved for sale by the Environmental Protection Agency since January 2011. Two months later Sunoco Green E15 debuted at the 2011 Daytona 500.

American Ethanol
celebrated the start of the fifth year of its partnership with NASCAR at the Great American Race this weekend. “They’ve put over six million hard-earned miles at high RPMs on these race cars,” said Tom Buis of Growth Energy at the race on Sunday. “They got better performance, they didn’t lose mileage and they haven’t had a single problem.”

Interview with Tom Buis, Growth Energy, at Daytona 500

NASCAR Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar says the partnership with American Ethanol has been very positive for them. “What we love about ethanol is not only is it a great renewable but it’s a great racing fuel, higher octane so it’s great performance for the drivers,” he said. “It’s also great for the environment, reduces greenhouse gases, homemade here in America …. it’s a win-win-win and in car races we’re all about winning!”

Dewar lived in Brazil as that country was moving to higher ethanol blends and he hopes to see it grow here in the United States as well. Interview with Brent Dewar, NASCAR, at Daytona 500

Growth Energy, the National Corn Growers Association, New Holland and POET-DSM are partners in American Ethanol with NASCAR.

E15 Would Cut 358K Tons of CO2 Emissions in MN

mnbiofuelsassoc1A new study is showing how a 15 percent blend of ethanol, E15, would cut hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in Minnesota. This news release from Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association touts an analysis by the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In response to a query by the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association, Dr Steffen Mueller, principal research economist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said a gallon of E15 saves 1.26 g of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) per megajoule over regular E10 (gasoline that contains 10 percent ethanol). CO2e includes carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane.

Annual gasoline consumption in Minnesota averages 2.4 billion gallons. Should all 2.4 billion gallons be converted to E15 from E10, CO2e savings in the state would total 358,000 metric tons annually, Mueller said.

Using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator, this would amount to eliminating 75,368 passenger vehicles from Minnesota’s roads annually.

“Dr Mueller’s technical analysis is a clear illustration of the benefits E15 has in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota.

The 358,000 tons of emissions saved by E15 is on top of the savings already eliminated by using E10, bringing the total CO2e savings to 1.07 million metric tons annually in Minnesota, the equivalent of taking 225,895 vehicles off Minnesota’s roads annually.

Murphy USA E15 Expansion Brings Call for Law

beale1The announcement by Murphy USA to offer a 15 percent blend of ethanol, E15, at more locations in Chicago is prompting a city councilman calling for an ordinance to support renewable fuel efforts in the city. Alderman Anthony Beale has been working for some time now to get an E15 ordinance on the book.

“While I welcome E15 to our region, it pains me that due to our 7-month process of debate, Chicago retailers have not had the ability to offer E15 first and therefore to more ably compete with suburban sellers. This news, as welcome as it is, underscores the need to make sure the market is similarly open to retailers in the city, where Big Oil currently has the ability to block this choice of fuels from the market.

“As a national distributor and retailer, Murphy USA can offer whatever products they like. Chicago retailers, on the other hand, are at the mercy of the Big Oil companies, who as we have seen through the thousands of dollars they’ve spent on ads, will go to any lengths to keep drivers dependent on fossil fuel, whatever the consequences for the health of our air and residents.

“It’s time to end the monopoly and stranglehold of the oil companies – who keep us dependent on foreign oil and give us high prices and petcoke in return. It’s time – for the good of Chicago’s air, for the good of Chicago’s health, for the good of Chicago’s beleaguered filling-station owners – to pass the Clean the Air with E15 ordinance.”

Beale’s ordinance has enjoys some pretty widespread support, including backers from the American Council on Renewable Energy, American Lung Association in Illinois, Chicago gas station owner Luke Casson, as well as several other biofuel, agribusiness and environmental groups.

Murphy USA Expands Sale of E15

Murphy USA has expanded its support of E15 with stations opening in the suburbs of Chicago and Houston in 2015. E15 is a blend of gasoline and 15 percent ethanol and is approved by the EPA for use in 2001 and newer passenger vehicles and all flexible fuel vehicles. Nearly 80 percent of vehicles on U.S. roads are approved to use E15.

“We are excited to offer E15 in addition to our existing product offerings. Murphy USA will continue to pursue opportunities to offer the fuel our customers desire,” said a spokesperson for Murphy USA. E15, a blend of logo-murphy-usagasoline and 15 percent ethanol, is EPA-approved to be used by 2001 and newer passenger vehicles and all flexible fuel vehicles. Those vehicles account for 85 percent of fuel use in the United States.

Growth Energy welcomed the announcement. “Growth Energy applauds Murphy USA’s ongoing commitment to bring higher blends of homegrown renewable fuels to the American motorist,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “Their dedication to providing the consumer with the best, most cost-effective product is commendable. Furthermore, we are thrilled to see Murphy USA’s success and decision to expand into new markets. Higher blends such as E15 are helping reduce our dependence on foreign oil, improve our environment through reduced emissions and support our domestic economy by creating jobs that cannot be outsourced.”

Buis said that retailers who offer E15 and other mid-level and higher blends of ethanol at competitive prices see increased sales and noted that consumers who use the fuel see better performance.

Protec Opens E15 Station in Georgia

protectlogoProtec Fuel has joined with Mountain Express to make E15 available to drivers in the greater Atlanta region. Mountain Express-Quick Stop is located in Marietta, GA and the Mountain-Express Food Mart in Greensboro, GA.

With the new E15 addition, the state now has 16 E15 locations.

“We are thrilled to see E15 continue to expand on America’s eastern seaboard,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “E15’s expansion continues — reaching 16 states today — despite the misinformation being spread by Big Oil and its friends. We expect additional stations in more states to follow Georgia’s example and offer drivers low-cost, environmentally-friendly E15.”

Protec has been a country leader in bringing E15 to drivers. The ethanol blend is approved for vehicles manufactured after 2001. The ethanol industry stresses that when consumers are given choice, they choose ethanol blends, such as E15 at the pump.

“I would like to extend congratulations on behalf of Growth Energy and its members to Protec Fuel and to Mountain Express for their efforts to offer consumers a choice of homegrown, renewable fuels that help reduce harmful emissions and provide consumers with a choice and savings at the pump,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy.

Buis added, “Protec and Mountain Express are helping pave the way in Georgia for consumer choice and savings. By offering a higher octane fuel for less, they are not only gaining a competitive edge, but they are serving their consumers who want to support cleaner burning, homegrown fuels.”

Students Recognized for Biodiesel, Ethanol Videos

Students from Iowa have been recognized for their efforts to promote biodiesel and ethanol. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) awarded prizes in its “Fuel the Future” Iowa High School Video Contest.

Anna Steenson of Des Moines won first place in the contest for Iowa high school students. The IRFA awarded the senior from Central Campus a $1,000 grand prize for her creative and informative video titled “E15: Powering the Future.”

Karly Lent of Bettendorf, Iowa won the $600 second place prize for her video entitled, “Let’s Fuel the Future.” Karly is a junior at Bettendorf High School.

Jacquelyn Huynh, Dakota Karthan, Maria Babcock and Jordan Bacon won the $400 third place prize for their video entitled, “Good for Your Car, Better for Iowa.” This group of girls is a collection of juniors and seniors from Ankeny High School.

“First, I want to thank all of the Iowa high school students who took on the challenge of entering this year’s contest and learning about the benefits of using renewable fuels,” stated IRFA Communications Director T.J. Page. “This year’s video contest winners all created highly imaginative, entertaining, and informative videos that do a great job of explaining the benefits of using cleaner-burning biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel.”

The top three videos were featured at the 9th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit.

First E15 Station Opens in South Florida

caraf-oilCaraf Oil in North Miami this week became the first retail fuel station in South Florida to offer 15% ethanol blended gasoline.

“We wanted to be the first in South Florida to offer E15 since we have had success with customers with E85,” said Edwin Flores, owner of Caraf Oil, who says they actually offer E85 at two locations in North Miami. “For drivers, it’s seamless – you can use E15 or gas if you’re driving a 2001 or newer model.”

The grand opening celebration for the new E15 pump on Wednesday featured officials from both Caraf Oil and Florida-based ProtecFuel, which managed the pump installation, as well as local dignitaries and representatives from Southeast Florida Clean Cities.

“We are excited to help introduce American-made ethanol into the fuel pool through E15 in our home state and city,” said Todd Garner, CEO of Protec. “With its higher performance at 88-octane, and environmental benefits, it just makes sense.”

“Clean Cities is all about reducing our country’s dependence on foreign oil and we’re proud that our region is one of the first in Florida to offer E15,” said Christine Heshmati, Southeast Florida Clean Cities Coordinator.

Currently, E15 is available at more than 100 stations across the nation in 15 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Caucuses, Higher Blends, Policy All Talk of IRFA Summit

irfaThe Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) is gearing up for its big annual meeting next week just outside of Des Moines. The group says the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit in Altoona on January 27th is free and open to the public and will feature a variety of conversations, including how energy policy might impact the 2016 Iowa caucuses and general elections, as well as discussions on higher ethanol blends and the future of energy policy in this country.

“The Iowa caucuses kick off the 2016 election cycle and we’ve already seen potential candidates swarming to Iowa,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “In addition, Iowa is one of only a handful of states that will be truly ‘in play’ during the general election. We saw energy policy play a major role in Iowa’s 2014 senate race. This panel will discuss how energy policy may impact the 2016 elections.”

A panel of fuel retailers and marketers who will talk about the benefits and opportunities of offering E15 includes panelists Lance Klatt of the Minnesota Service Station & Convenience Stores Association, Jason Stauffer of STAR Energy, and Todd Garner of Protec Fuel Management:

“Each of these well-qualified panelists has years of experience with higher ethanol blends, and can provide a unique perspective on the benefits of offering E15 to 2001 and newer vehicles,” stated IRFA Managing Director Lucy Norton. “Summit attendees will not only learn a great deal about consumer choice and cracking the oil monopoly, but they’ll also learn about the benefits of using E15 from this expert panel.”

U.S. energy policy experts at the summit will include James Massie of The Alpine Group, Aaron Whitesel of DuPont, and Catharine Ransom of the Glover Park Group to discuss the future of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the Farm Bill, tax policy as it relates to energy, and much more.

“The 2015 Summit will have a great group of well-qualified energy experts take center stage to shine a spotlight on the RFS and other policies impacting renewable fuels,” stated Shaw. “Each one of these experts brings years of federal policy experience to the table to evaluate how the latest political changes could impact the future of US energy policy.”

More information is available here.

Retailers Expand E15 Availability

sheetzPennsylvania-based convenience store and gas station chain Sheetz has announced that 60 of its locations in North Carolina will offer 15% ethanol blended fuel (E15) by the spring of 2016.

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis says the company has over 400 locations across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina. “Sheetz is a well-known leader in the fuel retail business and their decision to offer E15 shows they are in tune with an ever changing marketplace where consumers are demanding higher performance, lower cost renewable fuels grown right here at home,” said Buis.

“This is great news for the nation’s corn farmers who have been promoting the benefits of ethanol blended fuel for more than 30 years,” said National Corn Growers Association president Chip Bowling, a farmer from Maryland. “This is a fantastic development for the rural economy and consumers who want a real choice in fuel.”

Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen notes
that the announcement comes on the heels of E15’s expansion into 15 states. “It’s invigorating to see a major North Carolina retailer like Sheetz actively decide to do what is best for their consumers by giving drivers access to additional fuel options,” said Dinneen. “Sheetz clearly sees the benefits of E15 and it is my hope that all other retailers in North Carolina will follow Sheetz’s exemplary example.”

Also, Miami-based CR Caraf Oil is opening the first E15 pump in South Florida this week, working in partnership with Protec Fuel.

Bill Introduced to Re-test E15 – Again

Anti-ethanol legislation has already been introduced this very first week of the brand new 114th Congress.

sensenbrenner-2On Tuesday, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced legislation to require additional testing for 15% ethanol blended fuel (E15), a bill he has repeatedly introduced over the past four years.

Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen says the bill would hinder the growth and expansion of E15 and would simply repeat extensive studies that have already been done on the higher-level fuel blend. “The study Mr. Sensenbrenner seeks has been done. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy undertook the most exhaustive analysis ever conducted prior to approving the 211(f) fuel waiver. But even more significantly, E15 has been driven more than 100 million miles by consumers without a single reported case of engine failure or performance problems,” said Dinneen. “The rest of the world has moved beyond the hyperbolic angst about E15 and has accepted the fact that higher level ethanol blends are good for consumers, good for air quality, and good for energy security. Mr. Sensenbrenner should as well.”

A recent RFA report found that nearly 70 percent of all new vehicles are approved by automakers for use of E15.

E15 Ordinance Passes Chicago Council Committee

chicago-e15The Windy City moved another step closer to cleaner air with 15% ethanol as the City Council Finance Committee passed the Chicago Clean with E15 Ordinance on Monday. The ordinance would make E15 available as an option to Chicago drivers, and now moves to the full City Council for a hearing on Wednesday.

“I look forward to the full Council vote, and to giving Chicagoans a cleaner, less expensive option,” said co-sponsor Alderman Anthony Beale.

Supporters of the bill delivered a petition with 7,673 signatures to the committee meeting on Monday. “I’m very pleased this ordinance has such strong support within the Council and across Chicago,” Beale added.

Among the organizations supporting the ordinance are the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), Growth Energy, and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). “The city of Chicago has always been a leader when it comes to fuel. It was the first city in the United States to ban lead in gasoline, the first to choose ethanol over MTBE in reformulated gas, and this ordinance would make Chicago the first major city to guarantee drivers the choice of a lower cost, higher octane, clean E15 fuel,” said ACE Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty.

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis noted that approval of the ordinance will provide choice for consumers and jobs for the state. “(T)hey have displayed their resolve to ensure that Chicago motorists and other consumers have market access to a sustainable, cleaner burning, less expensive homegrown fuel that supports 73,156 Illinois jobs and generates $4.7 billion for the state’s economy,” said Buis. “By moving to E15, Chicago can help create an additional 12,000 Illinois jobs that can’t be outsourced.”

The ordinance would require all filling stations in the city to provide dispensing pumps and offer mid-grade E15 for sale, with a phase-in period of nearly a year and an exemption for filling stations selling less than 850,000 gallons of fuel per year.

E15 Debuts in Sunshine State

Some drivers in the Sunshine State will now have access to 15% ethanol fuel (E15), approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in vehicles 2001 and newer.

protecfuel1In partnership with Protec Fuel, retail stations in Ft. Myers and Sarasota operated by Mid-State Energy are holding kickoff events with substantial discounts on E15 and E85 fuel today to celebrate the new fuel choice for consumers.

Florida-based Protec Fuel helped manage the ethanol blends installation and provide fuel for the locations. “We are proud to help introduce American-made ethanol into the fuel pool through E15 in Florida, especially as it’s a higher performance fuel at 88-octane,” said Protec vice president of business development Steve Walk. “It’s so convenient for drivers to make a difference – you can use E15 interchangeably with gas if you’re driving a 2001 or newer model.”

The Renewable Fuels Association has been working with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for more than two years to overcome regulatory barriers that hindered the sale of E15 in Florida. “It is exciting to see E15 continue its expansion to the East Coast and it is my hope that additional states in the South and East that don’t currently offer E15 will follow Florida’s example and begin offering low-cost E15 to their consumers,” said RFA vice president of industry relations Robert White.

The Tampa Bay Clean Cities Coalition is pleased to see the expansion of bio-based fuels in the region. “These fuels can provide a renewable and cleaner fuel option for us now with virtually no additional investment in vehicle modification or infrastructure,” said coordinator Steven Reich. “I hope that more retailers will take advantage of the availability of these fuels in their product mix.” Clean Cities coalitions throughout the nation are charged with reducing the nation’s petroleum usage by the U.S. DOE.

Supporters Petition Chicago for E15 Ordinance

chicago-e15The Chicago City Council is on the verge of passing the “Chicago Clean Air Choice Ordinance,” which was proposed by city aldermen earlier this year, but the oil industry is fighting it.

The ordinance allows city drivers to choose 15% ethanol at the pump. The original ordinance was introduced last summer, while the enhanced ordinance includes an exemption for filling stations selling less than 850,000 gallons of fuel per year and provides a phase-in period of nearly a year.

The law would require all filling stations in the city to provide dispensing pumps and offer mid-grade E15 for sale. The proposal offers as justification the fact that Chicago is dedicated to reducing fuel costs, that ethanol is a renewable domestic fuel that burns cleaner than gasoline, E15 is approved for use in model year 2001 and newer vehicles and is less expensive than gasoline, “with expected savings between 5 and 15 cents per gallon.”

In addition, the ordinance points out that “Illinois is the third largest ethanol producing state in the nation, with 14 ethanol plants that can produce 1.5 billion gallons of ethanol per year.”

With oil companies working against passage of the ordinance, supporters have started a petition drive to allow ethanol proponents to voice their opinions to the city council. Over 4,000 from around the country have already signed on and many have left messages to state their reasons.

“Big Oil has arrived on the scene and is ready to spend whatever it takes to keep this legislation from seeing the light of day,” says Gene Griffith, CEO of Patriot Renewable Fuels, one of the 14 ethanol plants in Illinois. He is urging supporters to sign the petition in support of the ordinance.