Midwest cooperatives continue pushing higher ethanol blends

Gathered to celebrate installation of pumps dispensing E15 ethanol at Harvest Land’s Greenville, Ohio, station are (left to right) David Hall, Matt Smorch, Bette Brand, Michael Dora, Scott Logue and Ohio Congressman Warren Davidson
PROMOTING ETHANOL: Gathered to celebrate the installation of pumps dispensing E15 ethanol at Harvest Land’s Greenville, Ohio, station are (from left) David Hall, Ohio director of Rural Development; Matt Smorch, CountryMark; Bette Brand, USDA; Michael Dora, Indiana director of Rural Development; Scott Logue, Harvest Land; and Ohio Rep. Warren Davidson.
Farmer-owned co-ops invest in infrastructure to support ethanol-blended fuel sales.

Three Indiana-based cooperatives worked with USDA to install new ethanol fueling dispensers at two retail filling stations late in 2020: one in Rensselaer, Ind., and one in Greenville, Ohio. The new infrastructure allows customers to purchase ethanol-blended gasoline containing more than 10% ethanol.

The move toward increasing ethanol demand is a continuing process, but these are steps in the right direction. Grants from USDA that help offset the cost make these installations feasible, officials say.

“As we look to reduce our environmental footprint, E15 is a transportation fuel we can truly feel good about,” says Jeff Troike, president and CEO of Ceres Solutions Co-op, a farmer-owned co-op based in Crawfordsville, Ind. Ceres Solutions owns the CountryMark-branded station on North McKinley Avenue in Rensselaer, where a new blending pump was installed. Once the installation is complete, customers can choose a 10%, 15% or 85% ethanol blend, Troike says.

Both CountryMark and USDA offered competitive grants in 2020 to help offset infrastructure costs for member stations that wanted to offer higher ethanol blends. The total cost of the conversion at the Rensselaer location is estimated at $111,000.

Matt Smorch, Indiana Congressman Jim Baird, Michael Dora, Kendell Culp, Jeff Troike and Carl Lisek

EXPAND ETHANOL SALES: Pictured at the announcement of expanding ethanol availability at the Ceres Solution station in Rensselaer, Ind., are (from left) Matt Smorch, CountryMark; Indiana Rep. Jim Baird; Michael Dora, Indiana director of Rural Development; Kendell Culp, Indiana Farm Bureau; Jeff Troike, Ceres Solutions; and Carl Lisek, South Shore Clean Cities.

“We believe high-octane fuels are the future for transportation fuels in the U.S.,” says Matt Smorch, CountryMark’s president and CEO. “If we come together now, the American public will get more efficient vehicles in the most cost-effective manner possible.”

Speaking for USDA, Michael Dora, Indiana director of USDA Rural Development, adds: “High-octane gasoline is the answer. Together, we can bring to the driving public more ethanol-blend options, like what Ceres is offering at this station.”

2nd example

Meanwhile, Harvest Land Cooperative, based in Richmond, Ind., installed a new fuel dispenser that offers higher-ethanol fuel at a station owned by Harvest Land in Greenville, Ohio. The installation will allow customers to purchase E15 ethanol as an 88-octane fuel. One fuel dispenser at the station will be replaced so there will be two fueling positions, one on each side of the pump, offering higher- octane fuel.

Harvest Land estimates the new dispenser will increase the amount of ethanol sold annually at that location by 238,954 gallons. “Harvest Land has never forgotten the cooperative spirit from which we were founded — one which encourages working together to achieve a common goal,” says Scott Logue, Harvest Land president and CEO.

This installation was also made possible through the USDA Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program and the CountryMark grant program. Logue notes that Harvest Land is proud to partner in this project, which crosses state lines so farmers in both states have a better chance to offer their commodities.

USDA Deputy Undersecretary Bette Brand was on hand to celebrate announcement of the project at the Ohio station. Here’s hoping the new administration will continue backing similar efforts to help other cooperatives and stations install infrastructure to make it easier for consumers to obtain higher ethanol blends.

Comments? Email tom.bechman@farmprogress.com.

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