Investment in California ethanol market aims to benefit Nebraska corn growers

Source: By MATT OLBERDING, Lincoln Journal Star • Posted: Sunday, September 12, 2021

A new study suggests that conventional vehicles can run on E-30 ethanol blends. If 10% of the state’s vehicles switched to E-30, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 64,000 tons a year, a professor says.

Agriculture officials from Nebraska and two other states have decided to put more investment into the California ethanol-based fuel market.

The Nebraska Corn Board announced this week that it and corn checkoff organizations in Kansas and Missouri will provide California fuel retailers $1.25 million over the next year to increase availability of gasoline with an 85% ethanol blend, known commercially as E-85. The fuel will be supplied by Pearson Fuels, the largest E-85 distributor in California, which has nearly 250 retail stations located throughout the state.

It’s the second investment in E-85 in California by the Nebraska Corn Board, which earlier this year provided two grants to Pearson to pay for E-85 pumps at two gas stations in the Los Angeles area.

“These stations are moving a tremendous volume of E-85,” said John Greer, the Corn Board’s District 2 Director. “One station alone would use about 50,000 bushels of corn in the form of ethanol in just a year. The investment is already proving worthwhile for our corn growers.”

California is by far the largest E-85 market in the country, accounting for over 40 million gallons in 2020 and on track to reach 50 million gallons in 2021. Despite that, it has fewer E-85 stations than either Iowa or Minnesota, which combined have less than one-fourth the population.

Also, more than 1 million people drive flex-fuel vehicles in California, nearly three times as many as drive battery electric vehicles.

“The ceiling is high for E-85,” Greer said.

He said both E-85 fueling stations and flex-fuel vehicles need to be made more widely available in California.