Our Work to Engage Consumers Expands

Growth Energy's CEO writes about expanding the base of support for ethanol in her column from the December print issue of Ethanol Producer Magazine.
By Emily Skor | November 14, 2016

Year-end is a natural time for reflection, particularly as Growth Energy’s new CEO, who joined only seven short months ago. As I consider where we’ve been and where we’re going, I’m energized by our industry’s willingness to reach outside the comfort zone for the betterment of all. One of our industry’s great strengths is the support we’ve built within the Corn Belt and the Capital Beltway (what Washingtonians affectionately refer to as the policy community in Washington, D.C.). Our base is tremendous, propelling us from a start-up industry with fledgling support to being established with a defined and growing marketplace. We will continue to engage and rally our base and that will never change.

Growing our industry and selling considerably more ethanol gallons requires broadening our base of support, however. It requires connecting with consumers across the country, in all states and districts and localities, with urbanites, millennials, moms and grandmothers. Our industry isn’t just good for farming communities, it’s good for every community, they just may not know it yet. I can assure you, however, they soon will.

Ethanol, typically E10, is in nearly 97 percent of our fuel, and higher blends are becoming increasingly prevalent. Access to higher blends is good for Americans’ pocketbooks, their engines and the air we all breathe. Since I became CEO in May, Growth Energy has started new conversations on why American ethanol is such a benefit to all Americans and why options at the pump matter. 

Growth Energy traveled to the Southern Women’s Show in Charlotte, North Carolina, to talk with women about ethanol. Women and mothers are interested to know that ethanol displaces harmful chemicals in gasoline known to cause cancer, asthma, groundwater contamination and smog. We met with over a dozen influential female bloggers and marketers to begin a dialogue, and we brought along The Bachelor star Chris Soules and fourth-generation auto mechanic Audra Fordin, the first female head of her family-owned auto repair shop, to help us tell the story in attendee meetings and radio interviews.

In October, we worked with some of our great retail partners in the “Pink Out” campaign. Sheetz, Minnoco, Protec and Murphy USA turning fuel nozzles and pump toppers around the country pink to alert consumers that what they put in their tank matters. We raised awareness for breast cancer, and our retailer partners donated 2 cents of every gallon of E15 sold to fight breast cancer. Choosing E15 isn’t just a fuel choice, it is a health and lifestyle choice. Filling up with E15 during Breast Cancer Awareness Month meant consumers were actively contributing to an amazing cause. But beyond that, choosing E15 on any given day is also an active contribution to keeping our environment cleaner and each other healthier. 

In further efforts to reach consumers, we launched a new website: GetEthanol.com that connects drivers with their closest E15 and E85 stations. It also provides easily digestible content on the home page and affiliated Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest pages that educate and energize followers about the benefits of E15 without overwhelming unfamiliar consumers. The content is meant to be accessible to anyone, especially young people who may not be familiar with biofuels.

Looking back on these initiatives, I am excited at what the next year holds. Our work to engage consumers will continue to expand and supplement our efforts on Capitol Hill to maintain a strong renewable fuel standard, support renewable volume obligations set at the Congressionally intended levels and secure a Reid vapor pressure waiver for E15, so it can be sold year-round in all 50 states. The synergy of continued legislative strength and a growing focus on reintroducing the public to ethanol all point to the same goal: Expand the availability of higher ethanol blends so that Americans are free to choose a fuel that promotes cleaner air, keeps their engines running smoothly and saves their hard-earned money at the pump. The ethanol industry has been one of the great American success stories, and I look forward to working on behalf of our members and with all of our partners to ensure the next chapter builds on that success.

Author: Emily Skor
CEO, Growth Energy