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“Flex Fuel Fridays” raise awareness of higher ethanol blends

Glacial Lakes Energy is taking the message about the benefits of higher ethanol plants right to the pumps . . . and price-conscious consumers are listening.

With ethanol plants in Watertown and Mina, SD, Glacial Lakes Energy began a “Flex Fuel Friday” campaign in July to educate consumers about higher ethanol blends and encourage them to try the benefits for themselves.

The Flex Fuel Fridays have been held for an hour around noon on Fridays where consumers can get $.50 per gallon off purchases of E15, E20 and E30, and $1.00 per gallon off purchases of E85.

To date, Glacial Lakes Energy has held Flex Fuel Friday events at five retail fuel stations in Watertown, SD; and three in Aberdeen, SD. From now until the end of October, the ethanol producer will continue to hold events in each city; as well as Flex Fuel Fridays (later in the day) in surrounding communities, says Marcy Kohl, Glacial Lakes Energy’s manager of corporate administration.

This kind of promotion would work well in metropolitan areas in other areas of the country, but ethanol plants would need to commit at least four or five people per station to answer questions and talk with consumers about ethanol blends and what vehicles can use them, says Richard Wiarda, vice president, Glacial Lakes Energy Board of Directors. To help spread the message about higher ethanol blends, the company also gives away license plate holders that promote the use of ethanol, information on ethanol and other Glacial Lakes Energy items.

<< A Flex Fuel Friday event was held at the Sioux Valley Coop C-Store in Watertown, SD, where a total of 850 gallons of E30 and E85 was pumped.

In addition, Glacial Lakes Energy has been collecting consumer signatures in support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) at the Flex Fuel Friday events. It will then take these signatures to congressional representatives.

Glacial Lakes Energy, which promotes Flex Fuel Fridays on the radio, Twitter and Facebook, has created quite a following. When people can save a dollar per gallon for E85, that makes a big difference in their pocketbook, Kohl says. While ethanol blends can help save consumers at the pump, the price difference will depend on the individual fuel station, she notes.

Fuel station owners have been supportive of the Flex Fuel Friday program, Kohl says. “We’ve pumped from 800 to 850 gallons of ethanol in an hour, and they see what this is doing to their bottom line,” Kohl says.

Steve Stone, owner, Stone’s Truck Stop, Watertown, SD, says that the Flex Fuel Friday campaign has brought “a lot of new faces” to his business. While a lot of the business is price-driven, the campaign does get consumers thinking about whether higher blends are a better deal, he says.

Between its two plants in South Dakota, Glacial Lakes Energy produces more than 200 million gallons of ethanol per year.

A customer choosing E30 for his vehicle is assisted by Darrell Popham, secretary of the Glacial Lakes Energy Board of Directors. >>

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