Priming the pump for higher blends

Prime the pump, an effort to grow the ethanol market to accelerate the build-out of higher blend retail infrastructure, has had tremendous success, writes Ray Defenbaugh. This column appears in the October issue of EPM.
By Ray Defenbaugh | September 14, 2015

The ethanol industry is going on the offense to bring higher blends into the marketplace through the Prime the Pump fund. Prime the Pump is not the work of any one organization, but rather a broad industry effort to grow the ethanol market by working with major retail chains to accelerate the build-out of higher blend retail infrastructure across the nation. We’re targeting the top 20 chains in the country that represent well over 60,000 retail outlets nationwide to bring consumers a low-cost, high-performance fuel that improves the environment, creates jobs at home and strengthens our national security.

These efforts have been a tremendous success, thanks to the enthusiastic participation of stakeholders throughout our industry and retail leaders eager to offer the fuel of the future. As of September, there were more than 140 sites offering E15 in 21 states including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. Here is a breakdown of some of our current retail partnerships:

MAPCO: In January 2014, MAPCO became the first retail chain in the country to announce its intentions to offer E15. MAPCO has since launched five stores that sell E15 and E85 in Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee. This chain has the potential to offer E15 at 100 of their megastore locations in the future.

Cenex: The company plans to offer E15 at 13 franchise locations in North Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa later this year. Cenex has 1,400 locations nationwide.

Minnoco: The Twin Cities-based retail chain has played a critical role in convincing other major retailers to sell E15 and E85. Minnoco has announced that 22 of its locations will sell E15. Currently, 15 locations are open and operational in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area of Minnesota.

Kum & Go: Based in West Des Moines, Iowa, Kum & Go operates over 400 stores in 11 states primarily located in the Midwest. There are currently five open and operational E15 stations in Oklahoma, Iowa and Arkansas, and more than 60 are planned.

Protec: The business has 28 locations with approximately 40 million gallons of fuel sales in Texas, Florida and Virginia that plan to offer E15. Currently, 15 locations are open and operational in Texas, Florida and Georgia.

Sheetz: Sheetz, the most awarded and recognized innovator in the convenience store industry, is a new partner for E15 and E85. This year, the chain will offer E15 at 60 locations in North Carolina. In addition, Sheetz has a significant number of sites that could offer E15 with equipment upgrades. Sheetz serves more than 1 million people per day.

Murphy USA: Commonly associated with Walmart and seen as a low-cost, highly competitive retailer by the industry, Murphy USA announced that all of its Chicago and Houston new builds in 2015 will offer E15 and E85. Murphy USA has 1,200 stores across the country and serves 1.6 million customers per day.

Not all retailers are ideal candidates for Prime the Pump; we’re looking for industry leaders with multiple high-volume locations to prime the markets with higher blends and encourage others to follow. This strategy has already created an unstoppable momentum. As more and more retailers notice the higher-blend trend and recognize the competitive advantage E15 offers, we know they will also be eager to bring consumers a much needed choice and savings at the pump. Thanks to our united industry efforts, stations offering E15 will continue to pop up across the nation as we work together to make it a standard offering at the pump.

Author: Ray Defenbaugh
Chairman of the Board,
Prime the Pump
Board Member,
Growth Energy
319-753-1100
ray.defenbaugh@bigriverresources.com