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AUSTIN, Texas — With liability concerns now in the rear-view mirror, adoption of E15 fuel is in full swing, Michael O’Brien, vice president of Growth Energy, stated during an educational session earlier this week at the 2016 Wayne Fueling Systems Technology Summit.
“It’s rumors vs. reality. There is a big battle for market share between the ethanol world and the gasoline world,” he said in his presentation, entitled “E0 to E85: How to Get There."
In the past, certain groups have alleged E15 — a blend of 15-percent ethanol and 85-percent gasoline that carries an 88 octane and is approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for 2001 or newer cars — can cause engine damage. But O’Brien asserted that E15 is the official fuel of NASCAR and no problems have occurred with these race cars, which are often driven harshly.
Consumers have not expressed any concerns with the renewable fuel either, he added.
“Millions of gallons of E15 have been sold by major retailers for three-plus years with zero incidents,” said O'Brien, whose agency represents the producers and supporters of ethanol. “In fact, over 150 million miles have been driven by consumers on E15.”
Growth Energy also sought the help of insurance agencies to provide a different perspective. “Insurance firms are the best source when it comes to looking at E15,” the executive said. “Nine of nine insurance firms we surveyed confirm the risk of E15 is no greater than diesel.”
E15 is growing dramatically, with the fuel now offered at convenience stores in 26 states, O’Brien revealed. The renewable fuel blend — purported to be 3 cents to 5 cents cheaper than traditional E10 petroleum at the pump — could soon be sold in a few additional states.
Kum & Go LC, Sheetz Inc., MAPCO, Murphy USA Inc., Thorntons Inc., Cenex and Protec Fuel are among those retailers already offering the renewable fuel, thanks in part to grant programs provided by Prime the Pump. The five-year grant program, which provides an opt-out clause for retailers, has 655 retail sites ready or in the process of being built, O’Brien noted.
“One million gallons of E15 is now sold annually,” he said.
The 2016 Wayne Technology Summit concluded April 6 at Austin’s JW Marriott hotel. Wayne, an Austin-based company, celebrated its 125th anniversary during the event.