By some estimates the spread of E15 is likely to expand significantly in 2017, as more stations across the country begin to offer the ethanol blend. E15 is approved for use in vehicle models 2001 or newer.
Right now E15 is sold in 10 states, typically priced below both gasoline without ethanol and E10, on average.
The Renewable Fuels Association Thursday announced it has included E15 prices and locations on the E85prices.com website.
E15 still faces a number of regulatory hurdles to full market adoption. An official with the RFA said in a news release Thursday, however, he expects the number of stations selling the blend to grow in 2017.
“We are pleased to be able to broaden the website’s information to include information on E15,” said Robert White, vice president of industry relations at RFA.
“There are now hundreds of stations throughout most of the U.S. that offer E15, and that number will grow into the thousands next year. We want to make sure consumers know and can track that information, so they can take advantage of higher ethanol blends and the savings associated with using alternative fuels.”
The website also maintains a database of blender pump locations and an online forum.
The site is a crowdsourced service that allows consumers to toggle between E15 and E85, locating information and reporting prices on either fuel blend.
The improvements also allow consumers to review E15 prices reported by others, price spreads for each state, historical statistics and more, giving them access to the lowest-price gasoline available. In 2012, EPA gave final approval to E15 for 2001 and later model year vehicles, which accounts for 80% of today’s automotive fleet, according to the RFA.
E15's market growth has generally been slow, hampered by concerns about misfueling and lack of equipment necessary for gasoline retailers to offer the higher ethanol blend.
An oil company announced back in July it will become the first in the United States to offer pre-blended E15 at blending terminals.
HWRT Oil Company announced it would be offering pre-blended E15 at wholesale terminals in Illinois, Indiana and Arkansas.
Retailers across the country interested in offering E15 have not had access to the fuel at local terminals. As a result, retailers typically offer E15 by diluting higher ethanol blends such as E85 with regular unleaded gasoline. That process, however, requires retailers to have additional storage and equipment.
Although EPA cleared the way for E15 use in vehicle models 2001 and newer, the ethanol industry has faced a steep challenge in expanding E15's market share. The industry continues to work to expand E15's availability through grassroots efforts at the retail level, helping individual companies to work through all of the necessary regulatory hurdles.
Growing E15 usage is considered to be an important component of breaking through the so-called blend wall, where ethanol production exceeds the available E10 market. In addition, E15 expansion could create additional demand for U.S. corn.
If 50% of the E10 market was converted to E15, according to an RFA analysis, it would create additional corn demand of about 1.3 billion bushels.
HWRT is set to offer pre-blended E15 Sept. 16 at terminals in Hartford and Norris City, Illinois; Seymour, Indiana; and North Little Rock, Arkansas.
The Hartford, Illinois, terminal in particular is considered to be an important location as it provides reformulated gasoline with low volatility to the St. Louis, Missouri, market.
HWRT also has announced plans to expand E15 to 17 additional terminals. In all, the fuel will be made available at terminals in a total of seven states.
Access the E85prices.com website here: http://bit.ly/…
Todd Neeley can be reached at email@example.com
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