Amid the pandemic, E15 has been an anomaly within the fuel market. As many other fuel sales took a hit, E15, known to consumers as Unleaded 88, has continued its expansion; E15 saw a 10% increase in retail adoption year over year, and reopening economies foretell even better days ahead.
Offering E15 can be a significant sales-driving strategy for convenience-store retailers. However, there are some misconceptions among retailers regarding requirements for storing and dispensing E15—and it’s crucial to separate fact from fiction.
With the state of New York recently approving the sales of E15, we spoke with Growth Energy’s Northeastern Regional Manager Will Beck who is leading the expansion of E15 in the northeastern region. To help retailers determine if now is the right time to begin offering E15—and what adding the fuel to their site might entail—Beck answered some of retailers’ frequently asked questions about equipment compatibility below.
1. What are the EPA’s equipment requirements for storing and selling E15? Can my existing tanks handle E15?
The EPA requires that equipment storing and dispensing E15 carry either a UL listing or a manufacturer’s warranty. Either one can fulfill the requirement on its own. All steel tanks carry a manufacturer’s warranty and are therefore approved for storing E15. Almost all double-walled fiberglass tanks installed in the past 30 years carry warranties for storing E15, too. And for any retailers still unsure as to whether their equipment is compatible, The Petroleum Equipment Institute has a library of warranty information to help clear up any confusion.
2. What dispensers are approved for selling E15? Do I need special pumps?
In most cases, retailers will not need new pumps to dispense E15. All Wayne dispensers are compatible with ethanol levels up to E15’s. Additionally, all Gilbarco dispensers from 2008 or newer are approved for E15.
3. I don’t do on-site blending. Is there another way to offer E15 without having to use E85 and blender pumps? What would it cost?
There are 230 terminals now offering pre-blended E15, including big names such as Magellan Midstream Partners, Sinclair Oil Corporation and Murphy Oil USA. As more and more terminals add it to their offerings, adding E15 is easier and more profitable. To date, more than 500 retail sites have added pre-blended E15 with little to no extra cost.
4. If I have multiple sites, is there a good rule of thumb to follow when choosing which locations to add E15 to?
Many retailers start by planning on including E15 in their new build or scrape and re-build plans, and others are beginning to replace their E10/87 fuel with E15 as the standard offering. Other commercial factors can be considered for adding E15, too.
For example, Tom Ruszin, the fuel and environmental leader for Royal Farms, recommended retailers “take a look at the network of stores in your existing footprint and pick locations that are high volume, and near product pull points to start."
Seeking expert advice can make a big difference, too. Growth Energy’s in-house team of experts is ready to help. The Growth Energy team can help plan out logistics and work with terminals to help develop the best plan to getting E15 from the blending site to the hose.
5. Where can I go to check material compatibility?
Growth Energy has a wealth of resources available on its Retailer Hub, including a quick material compatibility checklist, guidelines and more. There is also the Petroleum Equipment Institute warranty library for equipment warranties and the U.S. Department of Energy resources on UST compatibility with E15.
Correcting misinformation on compatibility is a critical part of expanding E15’s footprint, and Growth Energy’s Market Development team stands ready to assist interested retailers in navigating this process.
Want more information? Retailers looking to add in the northeast can reach out to Will Beck at WBeck@GrowthEnergy.org, while retailers adding in the western region can contact David Durling at DDurling@GrowthEnergy.org. Or, contact Growth Energy’s Vice President, Mike O’Brien, at MOBrien@GrowthEnergy.org.
This post is sponsored by Growth Energy