Ames Kum & Go gets ethanol upgrades

Source: By Dan Mika, Staff Writer, Ames Tribune • Posted: Friday, July 15, 2016

An east Ames Kum &Go has secured $23,400 in matching state and federal funding to add extra biofuel options to its gas pumps.

The convenience store on east 13th Street received $23,400 in funding last week from the “Fueling for the Future 100” initiative through the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Those funds were part of a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve biofuel infrastructure in the state. Kum &Go will match the award to complete the project.

Kum &Go Vice President of Fuels Jim Pirolli said the grant will be used to turn the only active E85 ethanol pump in the city to a “blender pump” capable of mixing ethanol with fuel into multiple grades.

Once completed, the statewide initiative will have added 226 blender pumps and 26 storage tanks to 78 sites in Iowa. Pirolli said the project will begin in September and should take a week to complete.

Kum &Go also received an earlier grant from the initiative to install new pumps with E15 and E85 ethanol fuel at its store on Isaac Newton Drive. Those pumps will become operational sometime next month.

Despite recent grants and Iowa’s favorable history towards ethanol, high-mix pumps are scarce in the state. Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, estimates about 300 pumps offer E85 blends out of between 2,000 to 3,000 gas stations in the state.

Shaw said many station owners are hesitant to replace pumps with no or low ethanol content because they still have time in their operating lifespan. But over time, ethanol grants from the state and federal levels could entice owners to add dedicated or blender ethanol pumps.

“With more of these grants coming out there, we’ll have more pumps and more competition,” Shaw said. “And that’s what we want.”