Kansas consumers could get E15 access May 1, retailer says

By Kris Bevill | April 23, 2012

Scott Zaremba was one of the first retailers in the nation to install a blender pump and he’ll probably soon become one of the first to offer E15 to customers driving 2001 and newer vehicles. The owner of Zarco 66 Inc. operates eight stations in four counties outside the Kansas City metro area, all of which currently have blender pumps. As soon as the Misfueling Mitigation Plan process is complete and all of the required components are in place, Zaremba will simply switch the side E15 is offered on his blender pumps to make E15 available to the expanded market of vehicle drivers. He expects that could happen as early as May 1.

“Because we already have blender dispensers, for us to put E15 in is really simple,” he said. “That’s one of the advantages of having blenders. It gives us the capability to blend whatever we need to.”

Some of the Zarco 66 stations are located in low-Reid vapor pressure (RVP) zones, which means Zaremba will have to pay careful attention to the blends used at those stations to ensure the fuel meet’s EPA RVP product requirements. The U.S. EPA regulates the vapor pressure of gasoline in the summer months to control ground-level ozone stemming from the fuel’s evaporative emissions. The agency allows fuel containing 9 to 10 percent ethanol to exceed the 9 pound per square inch RVP limitation by 1 pound from June 1 to Sept. 15, but E15 is not granted the same treatment. This could cause issues for blenders in those areas, who will be forced to use different blendstocks and storage tanks for E10 and E15. “RVP is going to be one of the biggest obstacles that we have to overcome for the summer,” Zaremba said. “It’s something we have to watch and make sure that we have the right product in order to blend our ethanol with to stay within the RVP for our area. That’s something you have to watch as a retailer.” He stressed that the issue is temporary, however, as the RVP waiver is only an issue in the summer months.

Some retailer lobby groups have cautioned that retailers may not choose to offer E15 because of concerns that they could be held liable for potential vehicle malfunctions as a result of consumer misfueling. This is not an issue for Zaremba, who said he is confident the mitigation plan for E15 will provide him with necessary liability protection. “The Misfueling Mitigation Plan that’s in place should solve any of those problems that might happen for a retailer, so we feel very comfortable with being able to dispense to the motoring public a local, American-made fuel,” he said.

Claims that E15 will completely displace E10 are also unfounded, he said, pointing out that retailers need to also provide products to a large market of engines that aren’t approved for use with E15. “I think it’s going to be an evolution over time as we move to E15,” he said. “We still have to have products available for year 2000 and older vehicles. We’re at the starting point for where we need to be able to incorporate more American-made fuels instead of importing crude oil. This is our next progressive step.”

As for consumer demand? Zaremba said he’ll find out when he makes it available. “As soon as we educate the consumer on what it is, we believe there will be a good demand for it,” he said. “In renewable fuels, it’s all about educating the consumer.”