OPINION: Time for another higher blend infrastructure push

By Cassie Mullen, director of market development, Renewable Fuels Association | September 01, 2022

On August 23, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack traveled to Illinois and announced another $100 million round of funding for the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP), which provides matching grants that support and expand the use of higher blends of ethanol like E15 and E85, and biodiesel.

We’re excited about this program and what it means for farmers and ethanol producers in rural America—and, frankly, anyone who has had to deal with higher gas prices. Higher ethanol blends offer a lower-cost, carbon-friendly solution for American families seeing the effects of inflation on their wallets. And we’re looking forward to again helping retailers navigate the application process for these grants.

According to USDA, the money available now will support a variety of fueling operations, including convenience stores, hypermarkets, fuel distribution facilities, rail terminals, and marine operations–all with the opportunity to apply for the $100 million program. To assist owners with the conversion to higher blends, grants will cover up to 50 percent of the total eligible project expenses, with a $5 million maximum per company.

The HBIIP grant period will remain open for 90 days, until November 21, with USDA anticipating making awards 90 days after the application deadline. Based on the USDA’s prior experience with this program, it expects to make approximately 200 awards.

What’s even better than this news? The fact that there will be an additional $500 million for higher-blend infrastructure in the near future, as included in the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act.

The Renewable Fuels Association and USDA hosted a joint introductory webinar about the program on August 31, and we’re ready and able to help retailers take advantage of this program. For additional detailed information, visit the USDA HBIIP website at www.rd.usda.gov/hbiip

In the past, RFA has enjoyed a 100 percent success rate in helping retailers apply for and receive grants under this program; since 2020, RFA-supported grants led to infrastructure projects by 35 companies, totaling $74 million and covering 260 retail operations spanning 21 states.

If you’re a fuel retailer looking to make some upgrades, now’s the time to learn more about this opportunity and save a lot of money while building a competitive advantage. For more information, contact me at [email protected] or (832) 415-7882.