The U.S. Department of Agriculture today opened an application period for the latest round of the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP), which will provide $100 million in grants to pay up to 50 percent of the cost of equipment for station owners to add or upgrade to sell higher ethanol blends like E15 and E85.
This round of funding is separate from the $500 million provided in the budget reconciliation bill signed into law recently by President Joe Biden. American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Chief Marketing Officer Ron Lamberty welcomed this news in the following statement:
“Under Secretary Vilsack’s leadership, USDA continues to make funding available to help fuel marketers pay for equipment they install or upgrade to offer higher ethanol blends at c-stores, gas stations and blending facilities.
"This program helps make lower carbon ethanol blends available in more locations to help meet greenhouse gas reduction goals. In most of the country, E85 is a lower carbon option than even plug-in electric vehicles and it is available right now at prices well below the cost of gasoline. There are more than 20 million flex fuel vehicles on the road already and if we’re serious about decreasing transportation carbon emissions, more E15 and E85 fueling locations can help move the needle in weeks and months, not years.
“ACE was pleased to provide input on ways to improve this round of funding, including making funds more accessible to small marketers, by sharing feedback we received from the single-store and small chain operators we work with regularly.
"We’ll again promote USDA’s biofuel infrastructure program with paid advertising, a new round of video tutorials we plan to film with the USDA HBIIP manager, and by helping retailers across the country submit applications. We were excited to jumpstart this promotion earlier this month by hosting USDA and some top marketers at a free workshop to help us get the word out to other retailers.”
MORE ON ACE MARKET DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM:
ACE continues to make sure station owners know if they can already store and sell E15 and possibly higher blends using their existing equipment, by having them try our Flex Check E15 equipment compatibility tool. EPA lists Flex Check as a resource for retailers trying to determine equipment compatibility and compliance with federal requirements for storing biofuels. ACE believes if we are going to move significant new volumes of low carbon ethanol in E15, it's going to be because massive numbers of retail units are converted at little or no cost, on top of what stations add in new fueling infrastructure with HBIIP dollars.
After the initial HBIIP rollout, ACE launched a series of short, fuel marketer-focused videos breaking the daunting HBIIP application process into manageable pieces to encourage retailers to apply. The videos were produced in coordination with USDA and can be found on flexfuelforward.com. ACE will update the videos to reflect current program rules with USDA's help, and will continue to provide information to retailers nationwide, answer technical questions, help some with the application process, and put others in touch with ethanol supporters who provide funds for grant writers to help with more complicated applications.