South Dakota gas companies install blender pumps

By | June 01, 2006
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Two gas stations in South Dakota now offer consumers the opportunity to choose among several ethanol blends at new blender pumps. 4 Seasons Co-op in Britton, S.D., had the system installed in early March, and Sioux Valley Co-op in Watertown, S.D., followed suit about a month later. The ethanol blender pumps could be the first in the state, and possibly in the nation.

According to Tammy Satrang, chief financial officer and credit manager for 4 Seasons Co-op, consumers can choose from super unleaded gasoline blended with E10, regular unleaded gas, or unleaded gas with an E20, E30 or E85 blend, with a push of a button. "[It] blends it right through the dispenser," she said.

Gary French, general manager of Sioux Valley Co-op, said blender pumps have long been used to dispense diesel, so it just made sense to use blender pumps for ethanol. On the other hand, French can't recommend blends higher than 10 percent for consumers that don't have flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs). The buttons for E20, E30 and E85 are clearly marked as only recommended for FFVs. "On the other hand, we know of people that are using it and getting along fine," he said.

Consumers have responded tremendously to having more ethanol blending options at 4 Seasons Co-op, Satrang said. In the first month since the blender pump system was installed, the gas station pumped about 8,500 more gallons of gas than usual in the small town (population 1,300). Of the three new products being offered, E30 was the most popular, with an average of 212 gallons pumped per day. "If the price stays down enough where we can offer these products at a lower price, we think we're going to do pretty well with it," Satrang said.

French said the response in Watertown has been good also. During a promotional event April 14, E30 was again the most popular choice compared to E20 and E85. If the project goes as well as anticipated, Sioux Valley Co-op may install pumps at other co-op locations in the state. There has also been interest from other businesses.