Nearly all gas stations dispense an E10 ethanol blend, but there's a growing trend in the United States to using fuels with higher ethanol blends. Nebraska has more than 65 public and private fueling sites that offer E85, but only 20 of those sites include ethanol blender pumps, or flex-fuel pumps, which offer blends from E20 to E50 as well as E85.
More of the blender pumps are needed in Nebraska and nationally to give consumers more options.
The Aurora Cooperative this spring added a blender pump to its new facility in York, not long after installing one in Grand Island.
The unveiling of the pump in York was an opportunity for several entities to promote ethanol, blender pumps and incentives they offer for gas station owners and retailers to install blender pumps. In York, along with Aurora Coop leaders, were representatives of the USDA Rural Development, the Nebraska Ethanol Board, Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Energy Office.
Maxine Moul, state director for Rural Development, said the Obama Administration has set a goal of establishing 10,000 more flexible fuel pumps in the next five years along with a national security goal of producing 36 billion gallons of biofuel per year by 2022.
"Nebraska is the third largest producer of corn in the United States and the second largest producer of ethanol," she said. "Flex-fuel is a twofold win. Flex-fuel pump retailers reap the benefits of drivers purchasing their ethanol-blend gas and farmers benefit from the sale of corn that goes into producing the ethanol."
Under its Rural Energy for America Program, Rural Development has the following incentives for owners to install blender pumps: a grant of 25% of the cost, up to $500,000, and a 75% guaranteed loan up to $25 million.
The deadline, however, to apply for the Rural Development incentives is June 15. For information, go to www.rurdev.usda.gov/ne/Energy_energy_home.htm or contact Deb Yocum at 402-437-5554. You can also email her at email@example.com.
The Nebraska Corn Board offers a $5,000 per-station flexible-fuel pump installation grant and the Nebraska Energy Office offers 2.5% per-station interest rate loans. Contact the Corn Board at 402-471-2676 and the Energy Office at 402-471-2867.
According to the Nebraska Ethanol Board, the fuel choices provided by flexible-fuel pumps lead to faster turnover of ethanol fuel vs. a current unleaded, E10, premium pump setup. Corn Board officials say that ethanol sales have increased 45-55% in the last year in stations that have installed flex fuel pumps in Nebraska. Retailers have the flexibility to determine which ethanol blends they offer at the pump. Retailers that choose to become the blender of record can also take advantage of VEETC, the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, and other tax credits.
Currently, there are nearly 100,000 flex-fuel vehicles in Nebraska with the number continuing to rise. These vehicles have the capability to use ethanol fuel blends from a Nebraska-made fuel, says Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board. American vehicle manufacturers GM, Ford, and Chrysler have committed to producing 50 % of all 2012 Model year vehicles as flex-fuel vehicles.
USDA Rural Development, the Nebraska Ethanol Board, the Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Department of Energy are working together to make flex-fuel vehicle owners aware that they, in fact, have a flex-fuel vehicle. Many do not know they own such vehicles.