Grants to pay for higher-blend ethanol pumps in Nebraska

Source: BY RICHARD PIERSOL / LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR • Posted: Monday, September 14, 2015

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that 21 states, including Nebraska, will receive grants through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership to add pumps to supply more ethanol to America’s drivers.

A typical gas pump delivers fuel with 10 percent ethanol. USDA estimates that this investment will more than double the number of stations that offer intermediate blends of ethanol, mainly E15 fuel levels, but also higher blends up to E85, nationwide.

Since announcing the program in May, USDA’s Farm Service Agency received applications requesting more than $130 million, outpacing the $100 million that is available.

With a more than 1:1 match from private and state resources, USDA estimates that the BIP grants will support nearly 5,000 pumps at more than 1,400 fueling stations across the country.

Among examples of the states, Nebraska will get money to add 80 blender pumps; Iowa, 187; Minnesota, 620; South Dakota, 74;  North Dakota, 90; Kansas, 174; Colorado, 28, Missouri, 171; Florida, 892. The value of the grants for each state will be announced later.

David Bracht, director of the Nebraska Energy Office, said the overall objective for USDA and ethanol producers was more ethanol usage.  Comparing Nebraska’s grant for 80 pumps to other states, he said, comes down to population. Bracht, when he worked as a private-sector attorney, represented ethanol producers, and says he drives a flex-fuel Tahoe fueled by E85.

Hundreds of ethanol blender pumps in Florida are a good thing for Nebraska, which exports all but about 100 million gallons of the 2 billion gallons of ethanol it produces each year, Bracht said.

Nebraska’s pitch and rationale for the grants here was to get blender pumps in Omaha and Lincoln, bigger cities where emissions can be a bigger problem, and along the 454 miles of I-80 traveled by 7.7 million vehicles a year, Bracht said.

“Nebraska is really an energy state,” he said. “We export more gallons of ethanol than we use of gasoline.”

BIP money from the Commodity Credit Corporation must be used to pay a portion of the costs to install fuel pumps and related infrastructure. The matching contributions may be used for those purposes or for related costs such as infrastructure to support pumps, marketing, education, data collection, program evaluation and administrative costs.

Bracht said the state is finalizing its grant agreement with USDA.

A list of all the states and the number of pumps expected to be added with the grants is at