This Week’s Headlines
Grant to result in more ethanol refueling stations
By BRUCE HOTCHKISS
(Aug. 16, 2016) A $5 million grant from the USDA is providing the financial foundation for the installation of 30 ethanol refueling stations across Maryland and Virginia.
As originally conceived, the work — which has been underway in Maryland since the first of the year — will put 20 stations in Maryland and 10 in Virginia.
That will involve the installation of 70 pumps.
However, in the first phase of the project, no stations have been planned on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
The primary goal of the project is to displace unleaded gasoline and imported oil with higher domestically produced renewable ethanol fuel blends. These will be the first pumps in Maryland capable of pumping blends ranging from E15 to E85.
According to project planners, some will be E85 stations but most will be flex fuel pumps where car owners can choose E10 — regular fuel — E15 for cars after 2000, and E85 only for flex fuel vehicles.
Some pumps will be installed at existing stations, others at newly constructed stations.
Last October, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that Maryland and Virginia would partner as one of 20 programs in USDA’s Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership to give $100 million in grants to install ethanol refueling infrastructure in 21 states.
With 21 states and 20 programs, the Virginia-Maryland collaboration was the only multi-state proposal selected as a finalist.
In addition to its $5 million grant, the project is scheduled to get an additional $3 million from ‘partners.’ Joining to support the project are the Virginia Clean Cities at James Madison University, two U.S. Department of Energy designated Clean Cities Coalitions in both states, agricultural and energy offices of each state, state grain associations and agricultural partners, as well as the significant contributions from private sector infrastructure partners such as Sheetz and Protec Fuel.
The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy will administer the public private partnership and the federal award project on behalf of the two states.
With 9.6 million vehicles in the Mid-Atlantic region capable of operating on either E15 or E85, the project is estimated to result in the combined sale of an additional 24 million gallons of ethanol in the form of E15 or E85 annually.
Among the various “partners” in the project is the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board, which administers the grain checkoff program in the state and will chip in with checkoff funds.
“Maryland’s grain farmers have long supported projects to expand ethanol infrastructure,” said Lynne Hoot, executive director of the checkoff board.
“We hope that these educational efforts will maximize consumer awareness and usage for higher blends of ethanol, and the connection with local agricultural resources,” she added.
Laurie Adelhardt, public communications director for the Maryland Grain Producers Association, said that all the pumps funded under the USDA’s grant will be
installed by mid-November. “We will be the first recipient to accomplish the task,” she added, and “that may lead to additional funding as projects in other locations have dropped out and funding is leftover.”