LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Corn Board is committed to expanding corn markets for farmers and offering motorists a greater selection of clean-burning, home-grown fuel options. The Board recently allocated funds in its 2018-2019 fiscal year budget to help further develop the renewable fuel infrastructure in the state.
Through this grant program, fuel retailers have access to funds up to $50,000 to be applied towards the installation of flex fuel pumps. Flex fuel pumps, also known as blender pumps, make it easier for retailers to offer higher blends of American Ethanol, which are locally produced, less expensive, cleaner burning and provide higher octane ratings to consumers. The grants can be used on the costs of the pumps themselves or other necessary equipment or hardware needed to offer higher blends of ethanol fuel. By offering increased ethanol blends, fueling stations have a competitive advantage in the marketplace and are able to better serve the growing number of motorists driving flex fuel vehicles.
Currently, E-15 (a 15 percent ethanol blend) can be used in flex fuel vehicles year-round and in vehicles model year 2001 and newer between September 16 to May 31. These vehicles include cars, light-duty trucks and SUVs. Higher blends of ethanol, such as E-30 (up to 30 percent ethanol) or E-85 (up to 85 percent ethanol), are approved for flex fuel vehicles only.
“Over 240,000 Nebraskans drive flex fuel vehicles and more than 90 percent of vehicles on the road are 2001 models and newer,” said Tim Scheer, Nebraska Corn Board director and farmer from St. Paul. “These motorists have access to over 100 stations across the state that offer higher blends of ethanol, and we want to see this number grow. Through our grant program, we’re offering funds to retailers to help improve flex fuel infrastructure across the state.”
Grants dollars are available on a first come, first served basis. Once funding is exhausted, retailers will be placed on a waiting list and considered for future projects, should additional funding become available.
“Nebraska is the second largest ethanol producer in the country, and it makes sense to use a locally-produced product that’s environmentally friendly and saves consumers money,” said Roger Berry, director of market development with the Nebraska Corn Board. “We look forward to working with fuel retailers to help improve their infrastructure to offer more options to motorists.”
In addition to helping local retailers, the Nebraska corn industry is working to maintain and enhance ethanol policy nationally. On August 17, the Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) demanding a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and encouraged growth in cellulosic, advanced and total renewable fuel volumes for 2019.
The EPA has proposed 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuels, mainly corn ethanol, to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply, which is equal to the 2018 RFS mandate and consistent with the volume requirement intended by Congress. Additionally, the EPA proposed growth in the cellulosic, advanced and total renewable fuel volumes. While these projected numbers are encouraging to Nebraska’s corn farmers, recent actions by the EPA have led to skepticism.
“When Congress expanded the RFS in 2007, our nation’s corn farmers responded to the growing market for locally-produced ethanol and have increased production efficiency to meet the RFS goals of moving the U.S. towards greater energy independence and security,” said Berry. “However, after the EPA granted extensive retroactive exceptions to 48 refineries for 2016 and 2017 obligations, 2.25 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons were lost. That’s substantial when we’re on pace for another record corn crop. Our farmers are doing their part to produce a cleaner-burning, domestic fuel. We’re also helping with retail infrastructure to make renewable fuels more available to consumers. We expect the EPA to live up to their end of the deal.”
For more information on the Nebraska Corn Board’s flex fuel pump infrastructure program, or to request an application, contact Berry at email@example.com or 402-471-CORN.