9 area Omaha gas stations to sell $1.15-per-gallon E15 blend for 12 hours today

Source: By Cole Epley, Omaha World Herald • Posted: Friday, September 23, 2016

Nine metro-area Kum & Go locations will be pumping up a higher gasoline-ethanol blend Friday at prices not seen for more than a decade.

The Des Moines-based convenience store operator hopes to turn on more customers to the increasingly common E15 blend — that is, gasoline with an ethanol content of 15 percent — with a 12-hour promotion.

Drivers already have been smitten by Kum & Go’s higher-ethanol E85 blend in Nebraska, where the company sells more E85 than in any other state, the company’s vice president of fuels, Jim Pirolli, told an industry gathering earlier this year. E85 contains up to 85 percent ethanol, compared with the 15 percent found in E15.

“Kum & Go is excited to provide this opportunity for consumers to learn more about the options that are available and save money by trying a new fuel like E15,” Pirolli said in a statement promoting today’s campaign.

Critics note that more ethanol means lower gas mileage, since the biofuel has a lower energy content than conventional petroleum-based gasoline. And classic car enthusiasts have reported problems with blends containing even 10 percent ethanol in vehicles made before 1930.

But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2011 gave the green light to burn E15 in vehicles made since 2001, and Kum & Go’s Pirolli and others in the industry are betting that the lower price per gallon from blends with more ethanol will bring more customers into stores.

Drivers participating in Kum & Go’s blitz Friday could feel pangs of nostalgia if they can gas up for $20 or less. The last time the weekly average fuel price was $1.15 was the week of Feb. 11, 2002.

Around that time, the NFL’s New England Patriots had just won its first championship in Super Bowl XXXVI, and recording artists topping the charts included Usher, Alan Jackson and Enrique Iglesias.