Crowd Participation Needed

E85Prices.com gives individuals a way to make a difference and further the use of higher-level ethanol blends, writes Bob Dinneen. That websites, and others, provide consumers and government with information about ethanol blends.
By Bob Dinneen | April 14, 2015

Vince Lombardi famously said, “The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.” In the same way the success of E85Prices.com—RFA’s newest website—hinges on the participation of individuals all across the country.

E85Prices.com is a crowdsourced website providing updated and timely information on the price of higher-level fuel blends at more than 3,450 stations throughout the country.  

The site is unique in that it offers a price breakdown at stations selling E85 and E15. A driver can easily find the price of E85 and E10 at any reported station, as well as the prices of E15 and other midlevel ethanol blends. On a broader level, one can identify the average price spread and lowest E85 price by state and track month-by-month trends on all blends ranging from E0 to E85. The site has been the premier tool for drivers to access the most up-to-date information on the cost and availability of E85 and received more than 4 million hits last year alone.

As a crowdsourcing site, E85Prices.com is only as good as the information it receives, which is why RFA also offers the mobile app for E85Prices.com. The mobile app makes it easy for individuals who stop to fill up at a station or simply pass by a station to log the information into the app on their phone.

In addition to E85Prices.com and the adjoining mobile app, RFA also manages E85Vehicles.com, which helps individuals identify flex-fuel vehicles, whether they are shopping for a flex-fuel vehicle or simply looking to see if their current vehicle is capable of running on E85. E85Vehicles.com also allows users to connect through its forum, where readers can share stories and information about everything from newly opened E85 stations to basic tips about fueling with higher-level ethanol blends. There are approximately 18 million flex-fuel vehicles on the road today and nearly a quarter of all model year 2015 vehicles coming off the line are capable of using E85. Combine that with the 23 million vehicles manufacturer warranted to use E15 and it seems clear consumer demand for these resources should be quite high.

These sites, in conjunction with www.chooseethanol.com, round out RFA’s arsenal of digital tools ensuring consumers have access to all the information necessary to find stations and identify the lowest prices for E15 and E85. 

This information will prove useful to consumers, but will also provide a valuable resource to the government as well. So far, the government has not lived up to its obligations in keeping track of E85 availability. Last year, we examined the U.S. DOE’s Alternative Fuels Data Center and found it woefully out of date with about 1,000 stations missing from its database. An accurate accounting of E85 and E15 availability is vitally important today as continued E85 and E15 use will help the United States overcome the so-called “blend wall.”

And what driver with a flex-fuel vehicle wouldn’t want to take advantage of E85? For much of last year, a $1 per gallon price difference could be found between E85 and regular unleaded. That adds up to real savings! In early 2015, E85Prices.com found that there were more than 3,450 stations in 2,155 cities selling E85. E85Prices.com helps consumers easily find a station and fill up.

Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers had dedicated players who came together to win Super Bowls. In the same way, E85Prices.com gives dedicated individuals a way to make a difference and further the use of higher-level ethanol blends.

Author: Bob Dinneen
President and CEO,
Renewable Fuels Association
202-289-3835