Ethanol promoters have been pushing against the "blend wall" for the past several years, arguing that the future growth of the industry hinges on getting past the 10% ceiling on ethanol fuel blends.
Now, a new federal initiative to increase the number of blender pump stations across the country.
Kansas will receive $1.3 million in federal matching funds for the Kansas Better Blends Initiative, a program to increase the availability of ethanol blended fuels to Kansas motorists.
Kansas is one of 21 states to receive USDA funding from the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership that provides matching funds to expand infrastructure to move more ethanol into our nation's fuel supply.
Kansas Corn Commission worked with the Kansas Department of Agriculture to write and submit a proposal for the BIP grant to support KBBI's efforts to enhance the availability of higher blends of ethanol in Kansas.
The Kansas Better Blends Initiative was created by the Kansas Corn Commission along with Renew Kansas, which represents the state's ethanol processors. KBBI partners also include the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission, United Sorghum Checkoff Program and ICM, Inc.
KDA will administer the grant and will contract with the Kansas Corn Commission to implement this program.
"This is an excellent opportunity to give Kansas motorists more choices at the pump and increase the availability and use of our home-grown, clean ethanol fuel," Kansas Corn CEO Greg Krissek said. "Our groups behind KBBI have made a significant commitment to provide matching funds and in-kind services to bring more fuel choices to Kansas drivers."
The next step is to reach out to fuel retailers across the state of Kansas to help them understand the opportunity for financial assistance for adding blender pumps to their stations.
"We have already identified several fuel retailers who are interested in the program, and plan to speak to more retailers about this opportunity," Krissek said. "The effort will target high-volume retailers and those in high-traffic, high-visibility areas."
The Kansas Better Blends Initiative will provide awards that cover 90 percent of the cost of installation for blender pumps and 75 percent of the cost of E15 pumps that will provide higher-blend ethanol products.
All gas-powered vehicles can operate on E10, a blend of 10 percent ethanol fuel that makes up most of the nation's fuel supply. Vehicles model year 2001 and newer can use E15, comprised of 15 percent ethanol fuel. Flexible Fuel Vehicles can operate on any combination of ethanol and gasoline up to 85 percent ethanol.
In May 2015, USDA announced the availability of $100 million in grants through the BIP, and that to apply states and private partners match the federal funding by a 1:1 ratio. With the matching commitments by state and private entities, the BIP is investing a total of $210 million to strengthen the rural economy.
"This major investment in renewable energy infrastructure will give Americans more options that not only will suit their pocketbooks, but also will reduce our country's environmental impact and bolster our rural economy," said Vilsack.
"The Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership is one more example of how federal funds can be leveraged by state and private partners to deliver better and farther reaching outcomes for taxpayers. The volume and diverse geographic locations of partners willing to support this infrastructure demonstrate the demand across the country for lower cost, cleaner, American-made fuels. Consumers will begin to see more of these pumps in a matter of months."
For more information on the Kansas Better Blends Initiative, contact the Kansas Corn Commission at 785-448-6922.