EIA: Ethanol blend rates shatter records amid rising savings

By Emily Skor | November 30, 2022

When President Biden delivered his State of the Union address last March, fuel prices were spiking across the nation, and Growth Energy called on the administration to deliver relief at the pump with higher ethanol blends. Our coordinated campaign culminated with an emergency Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) waiver allowing unrestricted summertime sales of E15.

As regular readers know, summer sales of E15 saved drivers about 16 cents per gallon, on average, based on OPIS data reviewed by ABF Economics for Growth Energy. In some areas, the difference between prices for E10 and E15 hit nearly a $1 per gallon. More recently, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows how those savings expanded ethanol’s impact on the marketplace, cementing its role as a proven solution to our energy security challenges.

From Department of Energy analysts:

In the summer of 2022 (June—August), the price of fuel ethanol was lower than the price of the petroleum component of gasoline, which led to record-high fuel ethanol levels (blend rates) in gasoline sold in the United States … The fuel ethanol blend rate, based on our data going back to 2007, established a new record summer average of 10.5% in 2022. The blend rate averaged 10.6% in June and August—the second- and third-highest monthly summer blend rates on record, behind only June 2020—and averaged 10.3% in July.

 

The report also highlighted the growing discount available on ethanol relative to traditional gasoline:

“Fuel ethanol’s price discount to gasoline was one factor that led to the higher summer blend rate in 2022 … Between June and August, on the U.S. Gulf Coast, ethanol’s discount to spot gasoline averaged $2.16 per gallon (gal) when factoring in the RIN credit. Ethanol’s discount to gasoline on the U.S. Gulf Coast reached as high as $3.11/gal on June 8 and has been over $1.00/gal all year.”

Surging demand even prompted EIA to increase its longer-term forecast for ethanol consumption:

“These high discounts to gasoline have likely made gasoline blends with higher percentages of ethanol, such as E85, more attractive to consumers that want to take advantage of lower prices …  Following August’s average blend rate of 10.6%, the 2022 annual average blend rate increased to 10.4%. We forecast the annual average fuel ethanol blend rate to remain near current levels and end the year at 10.4%.”

Certainly, the big discounts on E15 offered by our retail partners haven’t disappeared with the end of the summer driving season. Just last week, Sheetz invited Thanksgiving travelers to take advantage of E15 at just $1.99 per gallon – a far cry from AAA’s weekly average price of $3.54 per gallon.

With savings like that, it’s little wonder why the push for permanent access to year-round E15 continues to gain momentum in Congress. It’s the single best tool lawmakers have to limit our vulnerability to global oil markets next summer and beyond.