E15 sold for $1.15 at extremely successful grand opening

By Holly Jessen | July 19, 2012

A week after it became the first retail gas station to offer E15 under the waiver granted by the U.S. EPA, a grand opening celebration was held at Zarco 66 “Oasis” station in Lawrence, Kan.

From 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. consumers could fill up with E15 for $1.15 a gallon and got a free breakfast sandwich to boot. The event was attended by representatives of East Kansas Agri-Energy, a 35 MMgy ethanol plant located in Garnett, Kan., the Renewable Fuels Association and area farmers. “It was extremely successful,” said station owner Scott Zaremba.

Although the gas station previously offered E15 and other ethanol blends via blender pump prior to July 10, it is now marketing E15 to all light duty vehicles built since 2001, after having officially registered with the U.S. EPA as an E15 retailer. E15, or Zaremba calls it, as “America’s new choice in fuel,” is selling well at the Zarco station, making up 16 percent of the sales on the first day. “The percentages are moving up every day, as we educate the consumer about what we are doing,” he told EPM, adding that the company is also moving forward to offer E15 at a second retail station in Ottawa, Kan.

On July 12, just days after Zarco 66 station started marketing E15 to additional drivers, the American Petroleum Institute put out a press release specifically warning Kansas consumers against E15. The organization claimed the fuel could damage vehicle engines and called for a “pause button on EPA’s rush” to allow E15, citing a three-year study conducted by the auto and oil industries. This despite the fact that when that study was released in May the U.S. DOE and ethanol industry groups pointed out that the report was inaccurate. Specifically, DOE Vehicle Technologies Program Manager Patrick Davis said in a May 16 blog post that the study was “significantly flawed.”

“Anti-biofuel critics can scream until they are blue in the face, but as the drivers in Lawrence are learning, E15 is safe and viable fuel choice,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen in a prepared statement. “It is only a matter of time before more stations diversify and bring this and other higher level ethanol blends to the market. That’s bad news for the oil industry, but should be welcome news to drivers from coast to coast.”