Renewable Fuel Board Gives First Grants

New state panel awards first grants to expand biodiesel and E85 access by consumers.

Last week Iowa's Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Board (RFIB) awarded the first grants under the state of Iowa's new three-year $13 million renewable fuel infrastructure program. Created earlier this year by the Iowa Legislature and administered by the Iowa Department of Economic Development, an 11-member board appointed by Gov. Tom Vilsack reviews applications and makes the decisions on who gets the funds.

The cost-share money goes to gas stations and distributors of renewable fuels to help pay for installing the special tanks and pumps required for ethanol and biodiesel.

10 projects funded in first round

"We're excited the process has finally begun," says Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. "Iowa is the renewable fuel production leader and this program can help Iowa become the renewable fuel consumption leader too. Iowans are demanding more homegrown fuels. These grants can help retailers and distributors bring renewable fuels to consumers."

On October 31, the RFIB approved nine grants to eight companies for 10 projects. The projects include one biodiesel terminal, two biodiesel retail stations and seven E85 retail stations. Entities wishing to install E85 or biodiesel retailing sites or biodiesel blending terminals can apply for grants through the Iowa Department of Economic Development. An application form can be found at www.iowalifechanging.com/business/downloads/renewfuelprojectapp.pdf.  

RFIB grant recipients

The following companies, project locations and the amount of awards are:
* Keck, Inc., Des Moines, biodiesel terminal, $50,000
* Hometown Convenience, Emmetsburg, E85 retail station, $30,000
* Kwik Stop Rainbo Oil, Dubuque, E85 retail station, $30,000
* Petroloc, Denison, E85 retail station, $30,000
* Aspinwall Cooperative, Manning, E85 retail station, $30,000
* Fredericksburg Farmers Co-op, Fredericksburg, E85 retail station, $30,000
* Casey's General Store, Mapleton, biodiesel, $30,000
* Casey's General Store, Mapleton, E85 retail station, $30,000
* Galva Holstein Ag, Galva, biodiesel retail, $30,000
* Galva Holstein Ag, Ida Grove, E85 retail, $30,000
Some of these recipients are pending additional documentation. These recipients get 50% of actual project costs up to amount listed.

The RFIB has $5.5 million in grant money available this fiscal year (ending June 30, 2007). Retailers wishing to add E85 or biodiesel blends to their stations can apply for grants up to $30,000 or 50% of project cost. Biodiesel terminal operators can apply for a grant up to $50,000 or 50% of project cost. Biodiesel terminals are distribution hubs that can supply numerous retail outlets.

The 11-member RFIB is comprised of:
* Mona Bond, Agribusiness Association of Iowa
* Denny Harding, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation
* Al Hillgren, Iowa Petroleum Equipment Contractors Association
* Jeff Hove, Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores of Iowa
* Brenda Neville, Iowa Motor Truck Association
* Lucy Norton, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association
* Jill Reams-Widder, Iowa Grocery Industry Association
* David Smitherman, American Petroleum Institute
* Shannon Textor, Iowa Corn Growers Association
* Yvonne Wente, Iowa Soybean Association
* Brian Wiegert, Petroleum Marketers Management Insurance Company

Expand biodiesel and E85 access

Iowa is the leader in renewable fuels production, notes Shaw. Currently, Iowa has 14 biodiesel refineries with a combined annual capacity of over 315 million gallons either in operation or under construction. In addition, Iowa has 25 ethanol refineries with the capacity to produce nearly 1.6 billion gallons annually. There are 11 ethanol refineries under construction or expanding that will add 775 million gallons of annual capacity. Many additional renewable fuels projects are under development.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association was formed in 2002 to represent the state's ethanol and biodiesel producers. The trade group fosters the development and growth of the renewable fuels industry in Iowa through education, promotion, legislation and infrastructure development.

Three new E85 stations bring Iowa total to 51

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) announced November 1 that Iowa motorists have three new locations to fuel up with homegrown E85 ethanol– Harlan in western Iowa, Fairfield in southeast Iowa and Graettinger in northern Iowa. Iowa now has 51 stations offering the corn-based 85% ethanol fuel.

Logli's Store opened their E85 pump at 508 North 4th Street in Fairfield. To celebrate the new fuel, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on November 4, Logli's sold E85 for only $1.85 per gallon. Fast Stop at 2401 12th Street in Harlan and Farmers Co-op Elevator on Highway 4 in Graettinger also recently opened E85 pumps.

Farmers Co-op Elevator in Graettinger was one of more than 30 retailers to receive funding through the Iowa Values Fund Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program, which is managed by the IRFA. A total of $325,000 per year was allocated to help expand the availability of both E85 and biodiesel.

Given the overwhelming response from applicants for this initial cost-share program, the Iowa Legislature created a new, larger program this past spring that will provide $13 million over three years to help with infrastructure costs. Entities wishing to install E85 or biodiesel retailing sites or biodiesel blending terminals can apply for grants through the Iowa Department of Economic Development. An application form can be found at: www.iowalifechanging.com/business/downloads/renewfuelprojectapp.pdf.  

"E85 is moving forward in Iowa," says IRFA's Managing Director Lucy Norton. "We have now cracked the 50 station threshold and many more E85 stations are being developed. Coupled with the increasing number of flexible-fuel vehicles on the road, we believe record E85 sales will continue."

E85 is 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline and can be used in flexible-fuel vehicles (FFVs) designed to burn the alternative fuel. A complete list of Iowa's E85 fueling stations is at www.IowaRFA.org/ethanol_e85refueling.php. A list of FFVs can be found at: www.IowaRFA.org/ethanol_flex.php.

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