United Cooperative was selected to receive a $448,500 Rural Energy for America Program grant to assist with the installation of 36 ethanol flex-fuel blender pumps and seven biodiesel dispensers at 11 of United Cooperative's Cenex convenience stores located throughout south-central Wisconsin. Blender pumps utilize existing fuels available at the location to offer fuel and ethanol blends directly from the dispenser. Five of the locations: Iron Ridge, Pickett, Poynette, Reedsburg, and Wyocena, have completed the overhaul and are now operating with the new blender pumps. Watertown will be finished in June.
"The renovations to all 11 convenience stores will be completed by the 2012 year end," states Greg Adkins, United Cooperative convenience store division supervisor. "It takes about two to three weeks per site to complete the overhaul. Two locations in Baraboo and one in Hartford are still in the planning stages; however, within the next few months, Beaver Dam, Hustisford, and Watertown will be completed and able to offer customers more options. Our flex-fuel blender pumps let the consumer decide what they want to put in their vehicle based on type and age of vehicle, price, and performance."
The flex-fuel blender pumps dispense fuel blends from E15 (15% ethanol), to E30 (30% ethanol), all the way up to an E85 (85% ethanol). E15 is usable in 2001 and newer vehicles while higher ethanol blends are for flex-fuel vehicles. With a flex-fuel blender pump, a motorist can choose the ethanol blend that maximizes fuel efficiency in their specific car or truck.
Gas prices are high, and drivers are looking for any relief they can find at the pump as the heavily-fueled summer traveling season fast approaches. With volatile energy costs affecting all Wisconsin residents, offering vehicle owners more choices at the fuel pump makes sense for United Cooperative. "Because of this grant and United Cooperative's connection to United Ethanol (located in Milton, Wis.), we are able to expand the availability of ethanol blends to our customers, and ethanol blends are typically lower-cost fuel options compared to regular gasoline," notes Adkins.
"The more vehicles on the road operating with E85 substantially lessens our dependence on foreign oil; because, we are then only using a 15% gas mixture," comments Adkins. "Studies show using ethanol in the Wisconsin fuel marketplace helps lower gasoline prices by reducing the need for importing expensive, high octane, petroleum-based gasoline components or more crude oil from unstable market regions of the world, like the Middle East."
Jerry Medinger, manager of the clean fuels and vehicle technologies program for the American Lung Association in Wisconsin said that he is happy to hear of United Cooperative's efforts to provide consumers with greener choices. "The reduction in ozone-forming pollutants is considerable with the use of E85, which has been labeled a Clean Air ChoiceTM because a typical driver can prevent four tons of lifecycle carbon dioxide and other pollutants from entering our air every year by simply fueling with E85 instead of gasoline," remarks Medinger, "All ethanol blends will have a benefit in lowering toxic emissions, since gasoline contains compounds such as benzene, toluene, and xylene which are cancer-causing substances."
Although blender pumps have not been installed, yet, at United Cooperative's Beaver Dam and Watertown locations, these facilities still offer E85 from existing pumps. Visit www.unitedcooperative.com for details on all United Cooperative's convenience-store locations.
Formed in 1936, United Cooperative is a full-service cooperative offering feed, grain, agronomy, and energy products and services to Wisconsin farmers and consumers. United Cooperative has locations in Baraboo, Beaver Dam, Bonduel, Deerfield, Denmark, Gresham, Hartford, Horicon, Hustisford, Iron Ridge, Johnson Creek, Mayville, Pickett, Poynette, Prairie du Sac, Pulaski, Reedsburg, Ripon, Rock Springs, Sauk City, Shawano, South Beaver Dam, Watertown, and Wyocena.