IRFA survey checks impact of renewable fuels industry

By Iowa Renewable Fuels Association | July 02, 2012

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association recently conducted an online survey of shareholders in Iowa’s ethanol and biodiesel plants as part of its 10th Anniversary: A Decade of Progress and Prosperity celebration. The IRFA questionnaire was administered to gain a better understanding of the renewable fuels industry’s impact on individuals and communities. Nearly 500 renewable fuels supporters took part in the survey and provided some intriguing responses.

 Among other results, the survey found:

- Despite the common use of the term “farmer-owned ethanol plant” only 37 percent of the respondents identified themselves as farmers.

“We have tried to use the term ‘locally owned plant’ because the investors are not just farmers – they include local business folks, the lady who cuts your hair, and the guy at the corner gas station,” IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw said.

- 39 percent of respondents have a friend or family member employed directly by an ethanol or biodiesel plant. “Clearly most respondents live near a renewable fuels biorefinery, but 39 percent shows how integral these plants have become to the local economy,” stated Shaw.

- 57 percent of those surveyed owned a flex-fuel vehicle (FFV), with an equal 57 percent of those stating they routinely purchase E85.

- Of the FFV owners, 68 percent said flexible fueling influenced the purchase of their vehicle.

- Of FFV owners, 67 percent stated they do not find E85 refueling stations adequate. “There is a growing appreciation for fueling freedom – not just E85, but E15 and E30 as well,” stated Shaw. “While progress has been made, the lack of flexible fueling stations is holding us back.”

- 29 percent of those surveyed said they own a diesel pickup or passenger car, with 51 percent of those stating they routinely purchase biodiesel blends.

- 18 percent stated B20 compatibility influenced their decision to purchase the diesel vehicle.

- Of diesel vehicle owners, 71 percent stated they do not find biodiesel refueling sites adequate. 

“Biodiesel blends are attractive to consumers today,” added Shaw. “But the lack of distribution infrastructure prevents many Iowans from having the choice of biodiesel at the pump. One of our top goals is to reverse this and some major improvements are on the way.”

IRFA will release additional survey results throughout the summer in conjunction with future 10th anniversary events.

Iowa is the leader in renewable fuels production. Iowa has 41 ethanol refineries capable of producing nearly 3.7 billion gallons annually. In addition, Iowa has 13 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce 320 million gallons annually.