Minnesota group adds stations offering higher ethanol blends

By Holly Jessen | September 22, 2014

Eighteen more retail gasoline stations will convert to Minnoco, a gasoline brand of the Minnesota Service Station & Convenience Store Association, the group announced Sept. 18.

 “Our owners believe we have a competitive advantage by offering more fuel choices like E15 to consumers,” stated Lance Klatt, executive director for Minnoco.  “Our new brand not only draws in consumers for more affordable fuels but is also a great business model for retailers.”

Four Minnoco retail outlets were introduced in the fall of last year. When the conversion process is completed there will be 24 total Minnoco outlets in the Twin Cities, making it one of the largest fuel retailers in that area of Minnesota.

These gas retailers will no longer have contracts with branded oil companies and will instead sell fuel under the independent brand Minnoco. “With Minnoco, I’m able to offer E15 as a more competitive fuel to my customers at a much lower price vs. regular,” explained Rick Bohnen, president of Minnoco and owner of Penn Minnoco. “This is a better business model for me because it significantly reduces my operational costs vs. branded fuels and I’m able to pass the savings on to consumers.”

Although product offerings will vary slightly by retail location, the brand generally offers E15, E30, E85 and diesel, along with regular grades of gasoline. The freedom to offer biofuels blends is one of the draws. “All of our regular 87 gas already contains 10 percent ethanol,” explained Jerry Charmoli, Minnoco owner and a mechanic for more than 30 years.  “E15 is approved for vehicles 2001 and newer and we’ve had zero problems, in fact my customers love the cost savings and extra performance.”

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association and Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Growth Energy, Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association and the American Lung Association in Minnesota helped with funding. “Minnesota has always been a leader in offering renewable fuels to consumers,” Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, said in a written statement. “I am glad to see an increasing number of service station owners and convenience stores offer a higher performing, less expensive, renewable fuel option.”

According to Growth Energy, E15 is currently available at more than 90 retail gas stations in the U.S. Those locations are in 14 states including, Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.