New York producer expresses optimism for E15

By Matt Thompson | December 23, 2019

Timothy Winters, president and CEO of Western New York Energy, said the state of New York’s approval of E15 is an important step for his state’s ethanol industry. WNYE is one of two ethanol producers in the state, and the rule “allows New York consumers to enjoy some of the same benefits that other states have been enjoying for several years already,” Winters said. He added that the rule is also a benefit to the entire ethanol industry, as New York is the fourth largest fuel market in the country.

And, he said, with the passage of the rule, he anticipates the biggest challenge will be educating consumers and retailers. “I really think that education is the biggest challenge and working with retailers, because they're bound to get questions,” he said.

Winters said WNYE is working with the Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy on ethanol education in New York, but the groups are still in the planning phase at this point. And as ethanol groups move forward to drive adoption among retailers and consumers, Winters said the state has the advantage of learning from other markets that already offer the fuel. “There’s always lessons that you can learn from challenges that other states have faced,” he said, adding that New York doesn’t have large, independent retailers like Casey’s General Store or Sheetz. “We have a bit of a learning curve,” Winters said. “We have some smaller retail networks that are going to take some time.”

He said that while he hasn’t heard from any retailers who are ready, at this point to, to begin selling the fuel, he’s optimistic as retailers begin learning about E15. “I think they [the retailers] are in the learning phase at this point,” Winters said. “Nobody's come to us and said, ‘Yeah, let's go, we're ready,’ but I think that that's where our job comes; that’s the big next step.”

While Winters said the real work of driving adoption of E15 is just beginning in New York, he’s optimistic about the fuel’s future in the state. “Business is challenging, especially in New York,” Winters said. “To have an opportunity to sell a fuel that consumers can get behind, get excited about supporting their local farmers, as well as cleaning the air, and at the same time the retailers are making a little bit more, I think that could very well be a win-win.”