New York State and Growth Energy collaborate to bring more E85 locations to the Empire State

 

(Published by Detroit Alternative Energy Examiner, written by James Pratt)

While American-made E85 fuel stations in the Midwest are taking off, E85 fuel availability on the east coast is still lagging. A new program is trying to change that.

A TALE OF TWO CITIES- and TWO STATES:

Minnesota, the Midwest’s leader in E85 ethanol fuel stations, has over 369 stations that have added E85 to their pump offerings. As premium fuel sales have dwindled, many station owners have decided to sell regular and E85, instead of regular and premium. Competition has done wonders to keep prices competitive, and now one can drive anywhere within the state of Minnesota, and only be a few miles away from an E85 station. There are more than 40 E85 stations in the Minneapolis Metro area alone.

Twelve hundred miles to the east, in New York State, only about 48 stations currently exist, and only a handful of E85 stations are in the New York Metropolitan area. The infrastructure for selling E85 hasn’t been as popular on the East Coast- perhaps because in the past, tax credits and money to help station owners convert has been scare, or station owners didn’t really know what kind of E85 demand there would be, and have not made the same investment in new pumps and conversion.

A new biofuel gas station conversion initiative aims to change that.

Partially funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, New York State’s Energy Research and Development Authority has announced a new program to help Gas Station owners convert existing tanks and pumps, or install new pumps, to sell renewable E85 fuel.

Stations in New York are now eligible to apply for NYERDA cash grants of up to $50,000, and, in addition, federal tax credits, and money from a group called Growth Energy, who will pay cash to station owners to install an Ethanol blender pump. The combinations of financial incentives and tax credits means that a station owner has to make almost no investment of his own, in order to offer E85 as a new product to his customers.

The program, called PO1093, offers cash assistance to any station owner who applies for help. Approximately $4 million dollars has been set aside to help stations convert, and so far, more than 130 applications have been received. The program manager says there is still sufficient funding to convert an estimated 80 to 150 stations, depending on individual station need.

Jeffrey Gordon, Director of Communications, NYSERDA said, “E85 is a domestically produced alternative fuel that affords consumers a choice at the gas pump over conventional gasoline, is more environmentally-friendly, will reduce our demand for imported oil, and will keep our energy dollars right here in New York. With continued support from our federal and State administrations, E85 ethanol will continue to play a role in NYSERDA’s efforts to help build a vibrant clean energy economy for the future.”

Many more E85 stations will be good news for hundreds of thousands of New York area flex-fuel car owners. According to the website gasbuddy.com, the average price of gasoline in New York City and Long Island is now $3.04 a gallon, while the average price of E85 is only $2.26 a gallon. That means E85 is a much better deal, where flex-fuel car owners can find it.

Description of New York’s E85 Station Program

Station Application Package and forms

Maps to find E85 stations nationwide

Our Take:
At this moment, crude oil is pouring out of a well in the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of 42,000 gallons per day, and it will take a minimum of two months to cap the well and divert it into another rig. That’s 2.5 million gallons of crude—the first wave of which was due to arrive on the white sand beaches of Pensacola, Florida sometime last Thursday. Of course things can go wrong, as the whole incident amply illustrates. Perhaps we ought to plan on 5 million gallons of spilled oil. We can take cheer at the thought that it would take nine months for this disaster to equal the Exxon Valdez (11 million gallons) disaster along coastal Alaska.

 

We do have to be realistic, though, and recognize that this will not be an isolated incident, with federal energy policy opening up more coastal areas to oil exploration. Hopefully the oil companies will spend some of their $35 billion in annual tax breaks to create more infrastructure for containment – floating booms and such—to limit the toll. Or we can expand ethanol production.

 

When it comes to ethanol, we’ve always felt ‘the more the merrier.’ Kudos to New York and to Growth Energy for taking this initiative. We hope New York State corn growers see a stronger market for their crop and can take part in the revenue from adding value to it.

 

So our only question is, who will be next in line to favor local, clean energy and reduce the demand for oil that will ruin beaches and fisheries, kill sea birds and destroy sensitive eco-systems?

 

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