Americans will soon have more choices at the gas pump through a US Department of Agriculture program that will provide funding for installation of flexible fuel pumps.
The Obama administration’s goal to install 10,000 flex-fuel gas pumps nationwide within 5 years, would add more ethanol to the mix.
USDA is issuing a rule to clarify that the definition of renewable energy systems in the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) includes flexible fuel pumps, sometimes referred to as "blender pumps." This clarification is intended to provide fuel station owners with incentives to install flexible fuel pumps.
Today, most gasoline sold in this country is a mix of 10% ethanol. Currently, there are 8 – 8.5 million flexible fuel vehicles on U.S. roads, constituting about 3.2% – 3.5% of the approximately 250 million vehicles on the road. These flexible fuel vehicles can be fueled with E85 (a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline). There are approximately 2,350 fueling stations that offer E85 of the more than 167,800 stations nationwide.
Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the results of E15 testing on vehicles years 2001 and younger. EPA’s findings confirms there are additional vehicles on the road able to take advantage of higher ethanol blends than currently available at your local, non-E85, pump.
In addition to flexible fuel pumps being eligible for funding under REAP:
- Grants are available for audits of energy improvements and studies to determine the feasibility of renewable energy systems
- Agricultural producers in non-rural areas are eligible for REAP assistance. Small businesses must still be located in rural areas. This clarification makes REAP eligibility requirements consistent with those of other USDA energy programs.