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USDA invests $22M to grow ethanol demand by 150M gallons

Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program grant announcement made at Trail's Travel Center in southern Minnesota.

USDA has invested $22 million of the up to $100 million in grants available to increase ethanol and biodiesel sales through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue made the announcement today (Oct. 8) while at Trail's Travel Center in Albert Lea, Minn.

Rocky Trail, owner of Trail's Travel Center, said his business was granted 100% of the funds he applied for. He thanked the Renewable Fuels Association for their assistance throughout the application process.

"Because of their support, in the very near future Trail's Travel Center, the largest truck stop in the state of Minnesota, will expand even further with the exciting addition of higher blends of ethanol," Trail said. Trail's Travel Plaza received $253,006 to replace 36 dispensers and one storage tank. The investment is projected to increase the amount of ethanol sold by more than 6 million gallons annually.

RFA leveraged support from the National Corn Growers Association to assist three dozen retailer companies in the grant process prior to the Aug. 13 application deadline. Submitted—and successful—applications assisted by RFA cover more than 200 locations across 21 states. Combined, these locations sell more than 250 million gallons of gasoline annually. RFA provided services and assistance for $21 million in grant requests, which are being now being fulfilled and will be matched with another $31 million in private funding for a total investment in higher blends infrastructure of more than $52 million.

“We were pleased to be able to help a large number of retailers who were excited to take part in this program,” said Cassie Mullen, RFA’s Director of Market Development. “With today’s announcement, we’re on track to see more fuel locations with higher ethanol blends soon, supporting rural America’s farmers and ethanol producers.”

The investments are projected to increase ethanol demand by nearly 150 million gallons annually, according to USDA.

“Investments made through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program are helping rural communities build stronger economies and will give consumers more choices when they fill up at the pump,” Perdue said. In addition to stopping in southern Minnesota, he was visiting Golden Grain Energy in Mason City, Iowa, today.

Projects will be funded in California, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Utah and Wisconsin. Examples include:

  • Casey's General Store will use a nearly $5 million grant to replace 346 dispensers at 70 fueling stations in Illinois, Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. The project is expected to increase the amount of ethanol sold by nearly 20 million gallons per year.
  • The Thorntons LLC will use a nearly $4.3 million grant to replace 290 dispensers at 34 fueling stations in Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee. The project is expected to increase the. Amount of ethanol sold by more than 66 million gallons per year.
  • Southeast Petro Distribution will use a $3.5 million grant to replace and install 113 dispensers and 48 storage tanks at 26 fueling stations in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Alabama. This investment is estimated to increase ethanol sales by 1.7 million gallons per year.
  • Kum & Go will use a nearly $1.6 million grant to install 128 dispensers at 17 fueling stations in Colorado, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma and Nebraska. The project is expected to increase the amount of ethanol sold by more than 23 million gallons annually.
  • In Iowa, Danlee Corp. will use a $1 million grant to create infrastructure to expand the sale and use of renewable fuels. This project will replace 55 dispensers and seven storage tanks at 10 fueling stations in Iowa. This project is expected to increase the amount of ethanol sold by nearly 2 million gallons per year.

USDA plans on announcing the remaining HBIIP investments in the coming weeks.

The Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program helps transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities convert to higher ethanol and biodiesel blends by sharing the costs related to the installation of fuel pumps, related equipment and infrastructure.

Eligible applicants are vehicle fueling facilities, including, but not limited to, local fueling stations/locations, convenience stores, hypermarket fueling stations, fleet facilities, fuel terminal operations, midstream partners and/or distribution facilities. Higher biofuel blends are fuels containing ethanol greater than 10% by volume and/or fuels containing biodiesel blends greater than 5% by volume.

See the complete list of projects funded in this round here.

Source: RFA, USDA
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