Almost 70 stores across Iowa are now offering E15, the lower-cost fuel option for 2001 and newer vehicles.
E15 is a fuel blend containing 15 percent ethanol, just 5 percentage points more ethanol than in E10, the most commonly used fuel in the United States.
The biggest perk for motorists is that E15 is often sold at a 5- to 10-cent-per-gallon discount compared to E10. It is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for use in all 2001 and newer vehicles, which is approximately 85 percent of the vehicles on the roads today, said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw.
“People always want to know if they’ll get the same gas mileage, and yes, E10 and E15 are the same as (regular) gas mileage. It’s higher octane, but burns cleaner, reduces the amount of cancer-causing chemicals in the fuel, and even better, you pay less for it,” Shaw said.
“Ethanol blends also are great fuels for winter," Shaw said. "In fact, we’ve pretty much put the gasoline antifreeze out of business, because it’s ethanol that was in that product to keep the gas line from freezing up.”
Before it was released to the public, E15 underwent millions of miles of rigorous road testing and has not been linked to any vehicle issues, Shaw said.
“It was the most extensive fuel-testing period in history, and that’s no exaggeration,” Shaw said. “We’re well over 100 million miles of real world use of E15 without a single reported problem. NASCAR even uses it and loves it. You can save 10 cents a gallon and burn a clean, high octane fuel made right here in Iowa instead of imported from overseas," he added.
Shaw said E15 supports Iowa’s agriculture economy. According to a recent IRFA study, Iowa’s renewable fuels industry accounts for more than $4.6 billion of Iowa GDP, generates $2.3 billion in income for Iowa households and supports more than 43,000 jobs across all sectors of the Iowa economy.
Iowa happens to be the nation’s leader in renewable fuels production. Iowa has 43 ethanol refineries capable of producing 4 billion gallons annually, including nearly 55 million gallons of annual cellulosic ethanol production capacity. In addition, Iowa has 12 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce more than 315 million gallons annually.
“It’s no secret renewable fuels play a huge role in powering the ag economy and Iowa’s economy. Eight of the past 10 years, the demand for renewable fuels has grown. Those have been the best years for the ag economy in the history of the country,” Shaw said.
By the end of 2016, E15 should be available in 100 stations across the state. Motorists can find fuel stations offering E15 by visiting the IRFA's website at http://iowarfa.org/fueling-your-vehicle/using-e15/.
Danley-Greiner is a freelance writer from Runnells.