Federal and state officials recently joined the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, American Lung Association in Minnesota and other renewable fuel advocates to celebrate surpassing more than 400 E85 fuel stations and 300 stations selling 88 octane gasoline in Minnesota.

The event highlighted the successful completion of the Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership (BIP), a national public-private effort to make cleaner-burning ethanol fuels available to more American motorists. Through BIP, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded Minnesota $8 million for ethanol infrastructure development.

“USDA has been working closely with our 20 state grantees to make investments totaling $210 million in rural america’s energy infrastructure,” said Richard Fordyce, administrator of the USDA Farm Service Agency.

The USDA partnered with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and local organizations, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, American Lung Association in Minnesota and gas station operators. USDA awarded the Minnesota Department of Agriculture $8 million in 2015 to add another 774 biofuel pumps and 47 tanks among 165 stations throughout the state.

“Their success has provided more drivers a choice of affordable fuels at the pump and expanded the market for corn growers,” Fordyce said.

To complement the federal funding, additional development funds were provided by more than $3.5 million in state funds, $2.5 million in private funds and an investment of more than $9.7 million from fuel station owners. 

The private grant funds were contributed by the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council, many of Minnesota’s 20 ethanol producers in partnership with the Minnesota BioFuels Association and Growth Energy’s “Prime the Pump” program.

Minnesota has more E85 stations than any other state, and the state has also been a leader in the growth of the new 88 octane gasoline, also known as E15. Under the BIP program, 137 Minnesota locations received funding for the installation of fuel pumps, fuel tanks and related infrastructure. Project funding was used to install 809 fuel dispensers and 49 fuel storage tanks across the state, exceeding the program’s infrastructure targets.

E85 is a high-ethanol fuel blend that can be used interchangeably with gasoline in Flex Fuel vehicles. There are more than 350,000 flex fuel vehicles in Minnesota.

The 88 octane gasoline is a 15 percent ethanol blend, which has been approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for any 2001 and newer on-road gasoline light-duty vehicle. Minnesota’s regular 87 octane gasoline has been a 10 percent ethanol blend for more than 20 years now.

“Today we’ve proven that the USDA’s $8 million grant award and the state’s matching contribution were critical investments to expanding fuel choices for Minnesota consumers while also supporting our farmers,” said Dave Frederickson, Minnesota agriculture commissioner. “This is truly something to celebrate.”

“The state’s corn growers are proud to be part of the coalition that has helped make Minnesota a national leader in ethanol infrastructure,” Brian Thalmann, Minnesota Corn Growers Association president said. “The remarkable growth in retailers has provided more consumers than ever with a lower-priced, cleaner-burning option at the pump, and we look forward to continuing this momentum in the years ahead.”

A full list of retail locations is available at www.mnfuels.com.

Photo courtesy of the Internet Public Domain