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E15: Ready for Primetime

Retailers can now sell E15 year-round—what does it mean for c-stores?
Photograph: Shutterstock

E15 has earned its place in the spotlight. Ethanol is a cleaner burning fuel that’s better for the environment than gasoline, and as a higher-octane fuel, it enhances engine performance. Better still, E15 is sold  for up to 10 cents less per gallon than standard gasoline, so it’s understandable to see why it’s gained so much traction in the past few years. However, until recently, it was only allowed to be sold for nine months out of the year due to an outdated regulation. During summertime, E15 was off-limits, preventing business owners from capitalizing on consumers’ desire to buy their preferred type of fuel. Now, though, convenience stores are able to sell E15 year-round. So what does that mean for c-stores?

Mike O’Brien, vice president of market development for Growth Energy, said, “For most of the retailers offering E15, it means they will get another three months of offering E15. The competitive price advantage from E15 also means that retailers will be able to feature the fuel during the busiest driving months of the year.”

From holiday weekends to family road trips, more cars are on the road in the summertime. And thanks to a much-needed update to the regulations for E15, more of those drivers will soon have access to the gasoline—and more retailers may begin offering it, too. O’Brien points out that while some of the largest retail chains already offer E15, they expect the market to continue expanding. “We’re hearing from more retailers than ever who have been on the sidelines waiting for this fix,” he said.

The E15 takeover

In addition to being offered at more locations all year round, some retailers are even making it the focus of their operation. Forexample, NUVU Fuels announced in June that they would make E15 its standard offering, with other blends like E85 and E10 also being offered as alternatives to traditional gasoline. Retailers want to offer the most competitive products to their customers, and E15 is just that.

Getting ready for increased availability: How to promote E15

Retailers who are set to begin offering E15 year-round may be wondering how to promote and get the word out. O’Brien noted that more than 90 percent of retailers selling E15 are calling it Unleaded 88 or Regular 88, and Growth Energy offers an entire branding and marketing playbook that can help retailers plan their marketing strategies for the fuel. The playbook, as well as other resources for retailers, can be found on Growth Energy’s dedicated Retailer Hub: growthenergy.org/resourcesretailer-hub/.

What’s more, retailers may not even need to update equipment to offer the fuel. According to Chris Bliley, Growth Energy’s vice president of regulatory affairs, “If the retailer is sourcing pre-blended E15, then in most cases the tanks and dispensers will meet required EPA regulations. If the retailer is adding E85 to blend E15 at the dispenser, they may need to add tanks or change equipment.”

With E15 available year-round as of May 30, 2019, retailers can reap the benefits all twelve months of the year—which can mean increased traffic, incremental sales inside the store, and of course, customer loyalty from E15-loving drivers. Best of all, they don’t have to do it alone. Growth Energy is a proud proponent of biofuels like E15 and offers resources for retailers to harness the benefits of offering these fuels. To learn more, visit https://growthenergy.org/resources/retailer-hub/

This post is sponsored by Growth Energy

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