[Illinois] Senate opens door for increased ethanol use

Source: By Tom C. Doran, Agri News • Posted: Friday, May 13, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Legislation that supporters say will enhance consumer choices and increase demand for Illinois corn was unanimously approved in the Illinois Senate.

The bill allows the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to receive nearly $11.98 million from the Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership federal grant program.

The matching grant, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will increase the number of pumps, storage and related infrastructure that offer higher blends of ethanol and gasoline, such as E15 and E85, or intermediate combination blends.

About $11 million in private ethanol industry funds and more than $1.5 million from the Illinois Corn Marketing Board will provide Illinois’ share of the matching grant.

Illinois is the third-largest grant recipient of USDA’s $100 million grant program behind Texas, which received $17 million, and Florida, which received $15.99 million.

“This allows DCEO to enter into contracts with the grant recipients and would allow them to move ahead with their projects. We’re looking at 87 stations in Illinois being updated under this program with either E85, E15 or in some cases both,” said David Loos, Illinois Corn Growers Association technology and business development director.

Loos said this legislation is important to the Illinois ethanol industry and opens the door for enhanced consumer choices, savings at the pump and increased demand for Illinois corn.

Illinois corn farmers are expected to plant 6 percent more corn acres this year than last, making building demand opportunities more important than ever.

House Next

State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, was chief sponsor of the bill that was passed 54-0. State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, is the chief sponsor in the House, where it was referred April 22 to the Rules Committee.

“This is money that will immediately go to boost our economy and provide a helping hand to our farmers who are struggling with low commodity prices, without spending a single dime of state money. This legislation is a home run for Illinois,” Barickman said.

The state’s 14 ethanol plants have an annual production capacity of 1.4 billion gallons, representing nearly 10 percent of U.S. capacity. The ethanol industry in Illinois supports more than 70,000 jobs, paying out $4.7 billion in annual wages and creating $17.5 billion in annual economic output.

As an example of the impact of higher blend bio-fuel pumps, a recent analysis from gas station chain Thorntons Inc. estimates that the installation of E15 and E85 dispensers at 43 of its Chicago-area stores would produce 231.7 full- and part-time positions, create $12.7 million in labor income, and generate $4.2 million in public revenues.