USDA names recipients of $22 million in HBIIP awards

By Erin Voegele | October 08, 2020

The USDA on Oct. 8 announced an initial round of awards under its $100 million Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. The agency said it is awarding $22 million to 40 recipients in 14 states. The remaining awards are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Investments made under HBIIP aim to help transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities convert to higher ethanol and biodiesel blends by sharing the costs related to the installation of fuel pumps, related equipment and infrastructure. Under the program, higher blends include ethanol blends of greater than 10 percent and biodiesel blends of greater than 5 percent. The application period for the program closed Aug. 13.

According to the USDA, the initial $22 million in HBIIP investments are projected to increase ethanol demand by nearly 150 million gallons annually. The initial round of awards includes projects located in California, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Utah and Wisconsin.

A full list of initial awardees is available on the USDA website.

Representatives of the biofuels industry have spoken out to applaud the USDA’s biofuel infrastructure investments.

The American Coalition for Ethanol thanked the agency for its implementation of the infrastructure program. “ACE thanks Secretary Perdue for his leadership on HBIIP,” said Ron Lamberty, senior vice president and market development director at ACE. “We were happy to play a part in helping several marketers work through the application process, including a long-time Nebraska retailer, who applied to add 11 more E15 and flex fuel sites, and to assist San Diego E85 wholesaler Pearson Fuels as they applied for HBIIP funds for 122 California retail E85 locations. We’re pleased both companies were approved to receive HBIIP funding.”

“Pearson recently announced their 200th E85 location and sold nearly 35 million gallons of E85 in California last year. That’s 29 million gallons of ethanol – 25 million more than if those customers had used E10,” Lamberty added. “Pearson does a great job marketing E85, and if these new locations perform like the others have, that’s 20 to 25 million new gallons of E85 in California. The E85 Pearson sells could use the entire output of a small ethanol plant within 18 months. That’s as much new ethanol volume as a billion gallons of E15.”

The Renewable Fuels Association applauded the awards, noting the grants will promote higher ethanol blends. “We were pleased to be able to help a large number of retailers who were excited to take part in this program,” said Cassie Mullen, RFA’s director of market development. “With today’s announcement, we’re on track to see more fuel locations with higher ethanol blends soon, supporting rural America’s farmers and ethanol producers. We also want to thank USDA again for launching the HBIIP program and understanding the fundamental link between renewable fuels and the farm economy.”

Growth Energy welcomed news of the grant awards. “This announcement offers a welcome ray of hope during an otherwise rough year for America’s farmers, retailers, and biofuel producers,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “It represents a major milestone in our efforts to ensure more Americans can access cleaner and more affordable ethanol-blended fuel. We’re grateful to Secretary Perdue, USDA, and our congressional champions who are working tirelessly to make higher ethanol blends a success.”

“We’re especially proud of Growth Energy’s incredible network of retail partners, who bring Unleaded88 (E15) to consumers across the nation and are paving the way for higher blends of ethanol,” she added.