In testimony presented during a virtual Minnesota Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Finance and Policy Committee hearing on S.F. 944, American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty utilized his fuel retailing experience and expertise to share insights on E15 equipment compatibility with existing infrastructure. The bill would increase Minnesota’s minimum biofuel content in gasoline to 15 percent from 10 percent.
Lamberty’s testimony focused on clearing up misconceptions about equipment needed to sell E15, particularly underground storage tanks, lines and pipe dope. “One of the products we have been encouraging station owners to offer is E15,” Lamberty said. “You’re all familiar with E15, and as you’ve been gathering information on this proposed legislation, you’re becoming familiar with one of the major points of resistance from station owners, and that is incorrect information about the cost of adding E15.”
He explained how many retailers have E15 compatible equipment and could sell it tomorrow without a big investment but are unaware because they’ve been told by the petroleum industry it’s impossible for most stations to offer E15, and could only do so after very expensive equipment upgrades. In order to correct this misinformation, ACE created an online E15 equipment compatibility tool called Flex Check to provide retailers with a simple way to check their own equipment against a database of equipment UL listing and manufacturer’s warranty statements gathered from National Renewable Energy Lab studies, Petroleum Equipment Institute compatibility information, and ACE’s own research with equipment companies. Retailers can enter the manufacturer or model number of their tanks, piping, and other equipment, and find out if they are already E15 compatible. Lamberty said some station owners may be able to download documentation they need to prove compatibility to EPA and state regulators, while others will at the very least be able to identify parts of their system that actually need to be upgraded.
EPA has also recently taken steps to recognize E15 equipment compatibility with a proposed rule citing ACE’s Flex Check tool. EPA’s rule co-proposes to either modify the E15 label or remove the label requirement entirely, and proposes modifications to underground storage tank regulations to recognize compatibility with higher ethanol blends.
“Minnesota has always been a leader in adoption of E15,” Lamberty said. “I understand why some retailers could be concerned about the cost of selling the fuel – frightening marketers is the intent of those who create and promoted this equipment misinformation. For the most part, however, they don’t have to be worried, and this bill would not be anywhere near as costly as we’ve been led to believe. We hope retailers will check out the tool. They’ll be surprised how cost-effective adding E15 can be.”
You can watch a recorded livestream of Lamberty’s testimony via the Minnesota Legislature’s YouTube channel.