E15 Continues to Build Momentum

FROM THE MARCH ISSUE: Growth Energy's Mike O'Brien outlines efforts and advances in the E15 market.
By Mike O’Brien | February 14, 2018

Growth Energy has made it a priority to facilitate the growth and expansion of E15 fuel. In 2016, about 600 retail sites were offering E15, and by the end of 2017, we had more than 1,200 retail locations carrying E15 in 29 states across the country. That jump represents clear progress for the fuel and demonstrates immense potential for continued expansion. We are working with the Prime the Pump program as well as leading retailers to ensure we are exploring every avenue and opportunity to grow the expansion of E15. As these efforts coincide with greater consumer demand for the fuel, one thing is clear: The momentum behind E15 is real. In fact, CSP, the leading convenience store publication, ranked our work with E15 as the second most important fuel story of 2017, even supplanting the major hurricane-related fueling issues that plagued the past year.

Alongside Prime the Pump, Growth Energy is leading the charge in spurring E15 infrastructure buildouts in the 29 states where drivers can now find the fuel. In total, Prime the Pump retailers operate in more than 9,300 sites across the country, where they sold roughly 19 billion gallons of fuel in 2016. E15 sites sell about 4.5 billion gallons of fuel annually. This strong network is the foundation on which we can continue our expansion efforts.

Our retail partners offering E15 are setting the industry standard for what it means to innovate within the fuel market, and we are proud to work with Casey’s, Cenex, Family Express, Holiday, Kum & Go, Kwik Trip, Minnoco, Murphy USA, Protec Fuel, QuikTrip, RaceTrac, Sheetz and Thorntons to offer consumers greater choice at the pump. Beyond working with this growing family of retailers to facilitate infrastructure expansion and greater availability, we are collaborating like never before to optimize the branding and marketing of E15 so consumers feel comfortable and confident in reaching for it when they fill up. More collaboration has allowed us to take an innovative approach that positions retailers as the prominent face of the effort to secure Reid vapor pressure (RVP) relief for E15. Retailers want to offer E15 because it provides them a competitive solution for their customers, and we want lawmakers to hear that from their perspective, not just from the biofuels industry. This tactic has yielded results, and we now have a written pledge from the EPA administrator that he will give the RVP issue the consideration it deserves.

Meanwhile, more consumers are reaching for E15 at the pump. It took four years for American drivers to purchase enough E15 to drive 1 billion miles. Then in four short months, they purchased enough E15 to drive another billion miles. As of January 2018, Americans have driven more than 3 billion miles on E15, a clear testament to the superiority, reliability and viability of the fuel. As E15 becomes more readily available, Growth Energy is fully committed to making sure Americans everywhere understand and appreciate higher biofuel blends, which includes the engine performance-boosting qualities of octane, the many environmental benefits as well as the cost savings that E15 delivers. Our GetBiofuel.com website has consumer-friendly, digestible information about the benefits of biofuels, as well as an easy-to-use mapping system that directs consumers to their nearest E15 and E85 stations. We also launched an engine-performance education initiative geared toward technicians, mechanics and automotive industry professionals, specifically designed to establish and explain the ways higher ethanol blends boost engine performance. We want to ensure that everyone, from average consumers to automotive professionals and experts, are well-versed in why E15 is a smart choice.

E15 is gaining a significant foothold in the fuel space, and Growth Energy is honored to work with Prime the Pump and our retail partners to keep driving that progress. When observing the growing adoption by both retailers and consumers, the momentum behind securing an RVP waiver for E15, and the industry buzz surrounding the fuel, there is much cause for excitement. Our goal is to make E15 the new normal at pumps across America, and we are glad to lead that effort on behalf of biofuel producers everywhere.

Author: Mike O’Brien
Vice President of Market Development, Growth Energy