RFA: E85 usage by federal fleets doubles from 2010 to 2016

By Renewable Fuels Association | May 15, 2018

A Renewable Fuels Association analysis of recently released U.S. Energy Information Administration data shows that federally-regulated fleets more than doubled their usage of E85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline) and other flex fuels between 2010 and 2016.

According to the EIA data, federally-regulated fleets, including government and transit agencies, used 17.9 million gallons of E85 in 2010, increasing to more than 38 million gallons in 2016, the most recent data available. Flex fuel vehicles can run on fuel blends containing up to E85.

E85 was 47 cents per gallon cheaper than E10 on average in 2016, equating to an average discount of 20 percent, according to E85prices.com, a database operated by RFA.

Using E85 also yields significant environmental benefits. For 2016 alone, E85 usage in fleet vehicles reduced greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 99,000 metric tons of CO2—equivalent to eliminating the emissions from 21,000 passenger cars using gasoline for an entire year. The combined 2010-2016 E85 usage by fleets yielded nearly 515,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas reductions, equivalent to eliminating the emissions from 500 million pounds of burned coal or the amount of carbon sequestered in a year by 600,000 acres of forestland.

Meanwhile, E85 usage is growing beyond the traditional heartland, the data found. In 2016, six of the top 10 states in E85 usage were not in the Midwest, including the top-ranking state Texas, with 35,948 fleet FFVs, and the third-ranking state, California, with 31,862 fleet FFVs.

Throughout the country, the availability of E85 has grown exponentially, thanks to efforts such as USDA’s Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership Program and the ethanol industry’s Prime the Pump initiative. Building on the progress from these efforts, 2017 and 2018 will show even greater growth in the buildout of biofuels infrastructure when that data becomes available.

“For more than a decade, RFA has worked with federal, state, and private fleets and fuel retailers to ensure greater access to E85 and greater awareness about the capabilities of FFVs,” said RFA Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White. “Thanks in part to RFA’s efforts, E85 can now be found at more retail outlets, benefitting fleets and consumers alike with a lower-cost, higher octane and cleaner fuel.”

The EIA data indicate that federal fleet FFVs consumed 98 gallons of E85 on average in 2016, meaning E85 likely accounted for approximately 15-20 percent of annual fuel consumption for those FFVs.

There are more than 22 million FFVs on the road today, with more than 4,200 stations selling E85, according to E85prices.com. The database also contains historical pricing information.

For more information on the EIA data, click here.