Ethanol Blog

Minnesota E15 Sales Grow Following EPA's Lifting of Restrictions

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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The lifting of summer restrictions on the sale of E15 already is benefiting retailers in Minnesota. (DTN photo by Chris Clayton)

A new analysis from the Renewable Fuels Association shows the approval of year-round E15 sales already is paying dividends in at least one state.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce released data showing E15 sales nearly doubled in June 2019 compared to June 2018.

The EPA finalized the E15 rule and without the restriction on the fuel, sales data from Minnesota shows for the first time ever E15 sales did not drop off starting on June 1.

"At the same time, the Minnesota data show that the wave of Renewable Fuel Standard compliance exemptions granted to oil refiners is suppressing more rapid expansion of E15 and other higher-level ethanol blends," the RFA said in a news release on Thursday.

E15 sales in Minnesota jumped from 3.66 million gallons in June 2018 to 6.30 million gallons in June 2019, according to the data. The number of Minnesota stations selling E15 also increased by 18% percent during that time.

RFA said in its analysis of the Minnesota data that it also shows the ill effects of small-refinery waivers to the RFS granted by EPA.

In recent months, E15 sales volumes per station have been slightly below year-ago levels as a result of weakened RFS requirements and lower prices for the RFS compliance credits known as renewable identification numbers, or RINs. From December 2018 through May 2019, E15 sales per station per day were 13% lower on average, than the average during the same period the year before. In addition, RIN prices were three times lower in the period of lower E15 sales.

"The data from Minnesota confirm that the market is already reacting positively to the elimination of the unnecessary and ridiculous summertime restriction on E15," said Geoff Cooper, president and chief executive officer of the RFA.

"In the past, when the calendar flipped to June, E15 sales volumes would begin a summer-long nosedive because of EPA's antiquated gasoline volatility regulations. But because President Trump kept his promise to remove the summertime barrier to E15, those days are over and retailers now have the ability to sell E15 all year long. Customers looking for a cleaner, lower-cost, higher-octane fuel option can finally fill up with E15 during the busy summer driving season."

However, Cooper said the continued issuance of small-refinery waivers are slowing the market expansion of E15.

"The bailouts given to refiners in recent years led to a collapse in the price of RFS compliance credits, which provide the marketplace with a powerful incentive to expand E15 availability," he said.

"That incentive is greatly diminished when credit values are very low as is currently the case. This is more proof that EPA's reckless use of small-refinery waivers is resulting in lost demand for ethanol producers. With another 40 small refiner exemption requests pending, we urge the Trump administration to exercise far more constraint and judiciousness in deciding these petitions. And we implore EPA to ensure that any exempted volumes are redistributed to non-exempt parties."

Access the Minnesota data here: https://mn.gov/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow me on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN

(TN)

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