Fuels

Growth Energy Expands U.S. Ethanol Fuel Infrastructure with E15

Photograph: Shutterstock

With E15 more widely available than ever, more retailers—and their customers—can get what they’ve been asking for.  As of January 2020, there were nearly 200 terminals selling E15 across the country, compared to just five in 2017. This growth has also led to an increase in the number of fueling stations offering the fuel: According to Growth Energy, there are more than 2,100 sites selling E15 now, compared to barely 100 sites in 2015—and the numbers continue to grow.

 “What we’re seeing is an acceleration effect,” says Mike O’Brien, Vice President Of Market Development for Growth Energy. “A consumer comes to the site, they see the fuel, they try the fuel and they come back and buy it again and again. So, we have more of a loyal customer base.”

Over the past several years, E15 has seen rapid growth nationwide. It took about four years for retailers to sell enough E15 to fuel 1 billion miles (from about 2013 to 2017). However, since then, use has increased so rapidly that the number of miles driven has surpassed 13 billion. Today, top E15 retailers include big names such as Casey’s, Sheetz, Minnoco, Cumberland Farms, NuVu Fuels, Kwik Trip, Kum & Go, Thorntons, Murphy USA, Protec Fuel, QuikTrip, Family Express, Royal Farms, Bosselmans, United Dairy Farmers and RaceTrac.

The recent increase in E15 availability, O’Brien says, comes down to supply and demand. “It was about 2017 when Kwik Trip started selling E15, and that was part of the start of terminals realizing that they were going to miss out on potential business. And so they started offering E15,” he says.

One of the most significant obstacles in bringing E15 to retailers is building out the infrastructure. In response to the rising demand from retailers and consumers for this higher-octane blend, Growth Energy and its members have addressed the issue head-on by clearing up any misconceptions about E15’s availability and accessibility. O’Brien explains that more retailers have compatible equipment at their sites to dispense E15 than they may realize. For retailers trying to determine whether installing blender pumps or sourcing preblended E15 is right for them, O’Brien recommends consulting the experts.

“We help them sort through their options,” he says. “If they have an existing site and they’re looking to move quickly, odds are they’ll go with the preblended and not put a lot of work and effort into construction.”

In addition to the benefits of the product itself, selling preblended E15 can also be a smart economic move for retailers. Sourcing preblended E15 allows retailers to avoid the costs associated with putting in blender pumps while reaping the benefits of selling the fuel. For retailers looking to build new infrastructure at their site, there are cost-cutting options available: Prime the Pump, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping build the infrastructure and distribution of higher biofuel blends, provides financial assistance to retailers who want to construct blender pumps on their site.

Learn more about Growth Energy’s retail efforts by visiting the retailer hub at GrowthEnergy.org/retailer.

This post is sponsored by Growth Energy

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