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The Changing Energy Landscape...

Holiday Travel Easier on the Wallet Thanks to Ethanol

Megan Grimes, Nebraska Ethanol Board

LINCOLN, NEBRASKA — From September 2016 through August 2017, Nebraska motorists and businesses saved an estimated $158 million dollars by using ethanol-blended gasoline. The total is based on the difference in cost between ethanol-free fuel and E10 — fuel containing 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline.

According to the Nebraska Department of Revenue’s Monthly Motor Fuel Consumption report, 87 percent of the 911 million gallons of motor fuel sold in Nebraska contained ethanol. The cost of E10 at the pump was at least 20 cents per gallon below ethanol-free blends from U.S. refiners during that time.

The estimated $158 million does not include the additional savings consumers pocket when using higher blends of ethanol. E15, a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, is typically priced 5 to 10 cents lower than E10, and has an octane rating of 88. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved E15 for use in all vehicles 2001 and newer, and it is currently available at 40 stations across Nebraska.

“Higher octane fuel reduces ‘engine knocking’ and provides better vehicle performance,” said Todd Sneller, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator. “Adding ethanol to boost octane reduces the toxicity of gasoline. The more ethanol, the higher the octane and the fewer toxic chemicals in our fuel. It’s a win-win for consumers and the environment.”

With a flex fuel vehicle, drivers have the ultimate choice at the pump and can take advantage of the biggest price differences by choosing ethanol blends as high as E85 (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline). Nebraska has seen some of the lowest E85 prices in the Midwest. Jackson Express in Jackson, Nebraska, is currently selling E85 for $1.25/gallon — a savings of almost 50 percent over their E10 price of $2.45.

“We buy our ethanol directly from the Siouxland Ethanol plant one mile east of our fuel station,” said Taylor Nelson, Jackson Express owner and Nebraska Ethanol Board member. “The corn is grown here, processed into ethanol and used at our station, so it’s a super local product. It allows us to pass those great savings on to consumers.”

Nebraska is the nation’s second largest producer of ethanol with 25 plants permitted for a combined capacity of 2.2 billion gallons annually. The ethanol industry has a $5 billion annual economic impact in the state.

“Using higher blends of ethanol is a good decision for all Nebraskans,” Sneller said. “It helps the state’s economy, consumers’ wallets, vehicle engines and the environment. Ethanol’s impact across the country and the globe continues to grow, but it starts right here at home.”