Go to E85prices.com and get involved 

Source: By Holly Jessen, Ethanol Producer Magazine • Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A while ago, I stumbled on a cool website. E85prices.com uses crowd sourced information to give consumers information about retail locations that sell E85 and at what price.

As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one with my eye on it. At the end of February, the Renewable Fuels Association announced it acquired that website and another one, E85vehicles.com.

In the time since then, the RFA has already made some improvements. Robert White, vice president of industry relations for RFA, told me the first order of business was updating the information at both websites. Since the purchase, RFA has added more than 30 new E85 to the database and work is ongoing add other missing stations. As of today, the website lists 3,455 total U.S. E85 stations in 2,154 cities as well as 291 blender pumps mid- and high-level blends. RFA is also working to add 2015 FFVs to E85vehicles.com.

“As for future improvements, we plan to refine the websites and mobile app to be as user-friendly as possible to encourage more people to utilize both,” he said. “All of the important information will remain, but we will streamline and make navigation easier. More announcements will come in the future.”

E85vehicles.com offers consumers a way to find out what options they have if they want to purchase a new or used flex-fuel vehicle. It also helps drivers identify if they already own an FFV. Finally, it includes an online forum that’s quite popular already and RFA hopes to introduce to even more people. “It has nearly 2,000 registered users talking about all things ethanol,” White said. “There are racing discussions, conversions, state laws and regs, new station development, FFVs and more. We encourage all interested parties to participate and grow the numbers participating and information shared.”

White told me RFA purchased E85prices.com and E85vehicles.com because they were well populated with information. “E85prices.com became a very popular website because there was really nothing else like it available to consumers,” he said, adding that, “E85 supporters tend to be quite enthusiastic about finding and promoting the best E85 prices in their areas.”

Last summer, RFA used the data at E85prices.com to point out to the U.S. DOE that their E85 stations database was lacking. At that time the DOE’s Alternative Fuels Data Center database listed nearly 1,000 less E85 stations than the 3,349 E85 stations listed at E85prices.com. “RFA highlighted that not only would this hinder consumers and fleets from finding E85, it is also the data that is used by EPA for setting the annual RVO for the RFS,” he said. “If you miss 30 percent of the stations, numbers can change dramatically, and not to the benefit of the ethanol industry.”

However, despite the fact that E85prices.com has the best list of E85 stations available, there is more work to be done. Currently, no E85 prices are reported in more than half of states. While some of those states may have very few or even no E85 stations (Maine is one example), there are more that do have E85 stations that are simply not being reported at E85prices.com.

RFA believes this is because consumers in some states simply don’t know about the website, White told me. The organization plans to work to promote the website and ask others, such as RFA members, retail gas stations and partners like the national and state corn growers and American lung association groups, Clean Cities coalitions and others to promote it as well. The goal is to update the data before bringing it to the attention of the DOE again. “We plan to again breakdown the two databases station-by-station and again provide that list to DOE,” he said. “RFA believes it is important, and if it is a matter of resources, DOE should allocate more to this effort.”

Here’s another couple of interesting tidbits. Ten other websites were purchased by RFA at the same time. These were websites with domain names that the RFA will use as auto forwards to existing RFA websites. An example of this is a website named blenderpumps.com that now takes people to BYOethanol.com, a website about ethanol blending and blender pumps.

Secondly, E85prices.com isn’t limited to listing E85 prices. Prices for E15 and other ethanol blends, such as E20 and E30, can also be recorded at the website.

Personally, I plan to register and make sure the information provided about stations in the town I live in is correct and I hope you will too. I think that, plus reporting prices, is a small thing we as individuals can do to help the ethanol industry that could have a potentially big impact. White agreed, telling me that, “the data being reported, both pricing experiences and station updates, is important for the success of the ethanol industry. We will be using the data to help with the RFS debate with policymakers and everyday consumers,” he said. “The more data that is collected, the better the data will be for all of us.”

If you are interested, go to E85prices.com and click on the second tab over from the left, Submit E85 Prices. It’s below the red bar that lists the total number of stations and cities E85 and other ethanol blends are sold in.