For nearly a decade now, most gasoline sold in the U.S. has contained 10 percent ethanol. This allowed us to do away with toxic additives like BTEX and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
But we can do better—and you can help. We’re here to explain why adding higher ethanol blend choices to fueling stations isn’t as hard as one might think, and to give you the tools you need to help lobby your local station.
This is capitalism at work: If you, the conscientious consumer, want access to a product, you have to demand it. And you’ll have more leverage if you can prove to the proprietor that it’s in his best interest to give it to you.
Already, more gas stations across the country are selling higher ethanol blends ranging from E15 (up to 15 percent ethanol) to E30 (30 percent ethanol), to E85 (we think you get it by now), which only enhances the benefits described above. While some of these stations are doing this based on their commitment to improving the quality of life of Americans, other are doing it for an equally American reason — it’s better for business.
Adding higher ethanol blends to a gas station makes savvy entrepreneurs money in more ways than one. On average, as one study has found, it can result in nearly $7,500 worth of additional profit each month, with top performers making upwards of $17,500/mo. Here’s how: For starters, of the 253 million vehicles on the road in the U.S., 20 million can run higher blends of ethanol up to E85, and a startling 200 million (or 80 percent) can run on E15. Compare this to the 7 million cars that run on diesel or the 18 million that require premium gasoline, and it’s clear that even though diesel and premium tanks dot the fuel station landscape, there’s actually an even bigger market out there for higher ethanol blends. Additionally, since these stations have more customers coming to their gas stations for fuels not offered elsewhere, they’re increasing their in-store foot traffic and reaping all the profits associated with that. And that’s not even getting into RINs, which are essentially credits they can get for blending renewable fuels into their gasoline. Credits that they can then turn around and sell—something that can net them thousands of dollars per month on top of everything else.
Initially the move to higher ethanol blends was slow due to misinformation campaigns sown by oil companies—but slowly the truth is coming out. For starters, the vast, vast majority of underground storage equipment is compatible up to E100, so chances are owners don’t have to spend a penny upgrading anything underneath their stations. As far as aboveground equipment—i.e. dispensers—costs vary, but start as low as $1,000 to upgrade to E15. For E85 pumps or blender pumps that can dispense blends anywhere from E15 to E85, they’re probably looking at substantially more, depending on what they need. However, these costs can be offset by the plethora of state and federal incentives—that stretch into the tens of thousands—available to station owners installing alternative fuel pumps. In case you’re curious, here’s a list of those incentives by state compiled neatly in one document by Flex Forward.
This move to selling higher ethanol blends isn’t just hearsay either. Feel free to check out our compilation of retailer success stories—where we looked at five different companies across the U.S. that have thrived since adding higher ethanol blends. You can also check out Flex Forward’s site where they list the companies that have made the move to selling higher ethanol blends. In general, Flex Forward is a good resource for learning more about adding ethanol to a gas station, and they even have a handy roadmap for interested entrepreneurs.
And that’s that! If you’d like access to higher ethanol blends, use our handy find a fueling station tool to see if there is one in your area. And if there isn’t, feel free to mention that to your neighborhood fuel retailer next time you stop for gas. You can also contact us at [email protected] about starting a petition aimed at your local gas station to help them see all the benefits adding higher ethanol blends can bring.