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The Power of Suggestion

Assisting service station owners in offering ethanol-blended fuels has been part of my job for a long time. About 15 years ago, I stood at a tradeshow table at a meeting of regional fuel retailers and suppliers. It was not a big show. However, the attendees were decision-makers who represented a large portion of regional fuel sales.

As attendees filed past on their way to the noon luncheon, I noticed an older fellow hanging back. Eventually, he made his way over and introduced himself as an owner of a family-run convenience store in a neighboring state. Glancing around as if protecting a secret, he shared this story.

Back in the early 1990s, when 10 volume percent ethanol gasoline (E10) was still new to some areas, he decided to start selling it. He’d done research and recognized E10 could offer him as well as his customers a price advantage. He checked his equipment, had the main underground storage tanks cleaned, and settled on a supply agreement with a wholesale fuel jobber. Antici…

Finding FlexFuel is No Great Labor in Minnesota

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For many Minnesotans, the Labor Day weekend means a last weekend at the lake, or a visit to the relatives, or a last taste of the State Fair. Whatever your plans are, they likely involve some additional driving.

For those who own a flex fuel vehicle, Minnesota has the most extensive network of E85 fueling stations in North America. With a little planning and the right app on your smartphone or vehicle navigation system, finding the next E85 station down the road is easy. Or, for those who prefer the old school method of navigation, the Minnesota FlexFuel and E15 Gasoline Directory is a handy addition to the glove compartment. Updated regularly by the American Lung Association’s Clean Air Choice team, this brochure not only lists all the stations that sell ethanol blends, it also lists all of the vehicles that can use ethanol blends. Be sure to pick one up at your neighborhood E85 outlet – they’re free.

The holiday intended to honor American workers is a great time to use a cleaner-burn…

Cleaner Air at the Fair

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Although State Fair season signifies the nearing end of summer, many have long been anticipating Minnesota’s Great Get Together. Along with the music, food, and activities, the Minnesota State Fair has a 2 p.m. parade every day. With record-breaking daily attendance already occurring on more than just the opening day of 2018, we’re sure to have a great audience to witness the Flex Fuel Vehicle “Seeing is Believing” float.

Teaching more people about our state’s largest source of air pollution – vehicle exhaust – is important, but even more so, is teaching individuals how they can help combat this problem. On Wednesday, August 29th and Thursday, August 30th, a flex fuel vehicle running on cleaner-burning E85 fuel will roll through the State Fair parade route. Flex fuel vehicles can use gasoline or ethanol blends interchangeably, but those that use E85 emit fewer harmful pollutants compared to the same vehicle running on petroleum gasoline. FFVs using E85 also provide a reduction in GHG …

DENCO II Making a Big Impact in West Central Minnesota

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One month ago, flex fuel vehicle drivers near Alexandria, Minnesota had a real nice treat: E85 and other ethanol blends were discounted, making these fuels even less expensive compared to regular unleaded gasoline. Typically, drivers may see a 40-60 cent per gallon difference in price between E85 and regular. However, at the end of July, on a day when unleaded was priced $2.79 at the Alexandria Cenex, a gallon of E85 at that station cost only $0.85! This special event was thanks to two organizations: the Douglas County Corn and Soybean Growers as well as DENCO II, an ethanol plant based near the Alexandria area. Staff from both organizations were out at the pumps talking to flex fuel vehicle drivers about the fuel options their vehicles can use.

While this huge discount on E85 was a one-day-only event, DENCO II has long been working with retailers in their community to offer better E85 pricing through their Retailer Direct E85 Program. DENCO II is one of just a handful of ethanol produ…

Canadian Blaze Leads to Minnesota Haze

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The hazy skies we’ve had lately offer a teachable moment to talk about air quality. By now, you likely know what is causing our multi-day air quality alerts in varying parts of the state – smoke and particles from the Canadian wildfires.

Particle pollution, also called particulate matter (PM), is sometimes a bit easier to understand than other types of air pollution. Like the name reveals, PM is made up of tiny particles. If enough of it accumulates, it is visible to the naked eye causing a hazy film over city skylines, or making the sun so dim you almost can look right at it.

In another day or two, the grey skies will become clear again. This haze will pass with the wind or new weather systems, but we can't let the conversations about air quality go away with it. While wildfire smoke is an increasing problem, it is actually exhaust from vehicles that is the largest source of air pollution in our state. Both on- and off-road vehicles emit pollutants into our air.  Because we often …

Minnesota is one of the "Big 6"

While there are no oil wells in Minnesota, our state is still a major fuel producer.  Minnesota is one of six states that together produce more than 70 percent of the ethanol fuel made in the United States each year. This is according to reports from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Minnesota’s 19 ethanol refineries create 28 million barrels – that’s more than a billion gallons – each year. That places Minnesota in 4th place for ethanol production. Iowa is the top producer, followed by Nebraska, then Illinois.  Indiana and South Dakota round out the “Big 6” for ethanol production.

The United States produces an estimated 367 million barrels of ethanol every year.  Unlike oil, ethanol is renewable, and the plants used to make ethanol capture and hold carbon, reducing the fuel’s greenhouse gas emissions. It is also less expensive than petroleum, and because it’s made close to home, there's a shorter supply line to get fuel to Minnesota retailers.

This growth industry (etha…

Family Fun, Food, and Learning at Farmfest

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If you have any interest in big machinery or technology, this week’s Farmfest is an event you don’t want to miss. We’ve already learned about all the energy savings and technological efficiencies of the operations at an ethanol plant, but what about some of the latest technologies used on a farm? The place to see all of this first-hand is in Redwood County this week.

From August 7-9, Farmfest takes over the fields near Morgan, MN. The largest outdoor Ag event in Minnesota, Farmfest features some amazing equipment on display, a chance for networking with Ag industry leaders, the latest in farm technology, rural policy forums, and all sorts of news, educational resources, and family-friendly activities. This year, with the primary and midterm elections on many people's minds, there will be four political forums giving those attending Farmfest the opportunity to hear candidates talk about important issues.

One not-to-miss attraction at Farmfest is the Minnesota Corn Growers Associatio…