LEXINGTON, Neb. -- A Lexington, Neb., service station has become the first in the state to sell an E-15 ethanol/gasoline blend.
Neal Hoff of Uncle Neal’s Phillips 66 called it “the fuel of the future for automobiles” and a logical choice for his customers,” according to a report in theLincoln Journal Star.
“We put in blender pumps,” Hoff said, “and they were active by Friday night. And by Saturday night, yes, we had sales.”
The Environmental Protection Agency approved E-15 for use in vehicles 2001 and newer in June.
To Hoff, the EPA stance means that “85% of the cars out there can use it. And it just seems logical that what’s going to happen eventually is that we’ll migrate from E-10 to E-15. And we’re on the front end of that,” he told the newspaper.
If consumers go along with a move to a higher ethanol blend nationally, it could boost overall demand and help the industry get over a so-called “blenders wall” in which the government mandate for E-10 use as a renewable fuel has been met.
Hoff is selling E-15 a nickel cheaper than E-10 and 15 cents cheaper than regular unleaded.
Speaking from his Hastings office, Hoff said he hasn’t decided yet whether to add E-15 at his nine other locations in Nebraska. “This is the first one where we’re attempting to offer E-15.”
In a prepared statement, Kim Clark of the Nebraska Corn Board said the marketing breakthrough in the state was “a long time coming” and the result of clearing several regulative hurdles.
Hoff used a blender pump grant from the Corn Board to become the first E-15 outlet. Nebraska is the second-largest producer of ethanol in the United States behind Iowa.
Steve Sorum of the Nebraska Ethanol Board said the decision to change fuel choices is not an easy one for the typical retailer.
“It’s been a situation where dealers have looked very closely at it and making decisions based on the (underground) tank space available for new product,” Sorum told the newspaper. “And that’s been one of the largest impediments to rapid deployment. In fact, it’s probably the primary one.”
Besides a ban on using it in older cars, E-15 can be used in Nebraska and in other northern markets only on a seasonal basis. That’s because federal regulators relax a vapor-pressure requirement when the weather gets colder.