High Gas Prices Driving More Minnesotans to Choose E85 This Summer

The price difference between E85 and unleaded gasoline at some Minnesota fueling stations like Holiday is as much as $1.

The price difference between E85 and unleaded gasoline at some Minnesota fueling stations like Holiday is as much as $1.

As Minnesotans deal with another summer of high gas prices, E85 has become more and more popular.

According to Bob Moffitt from the American Lung Association of Minnesota’s Clean Air Choice team, E85 sales were up 28 percent in Minnesota during June of this year compared to June of 2012.

One reason for the increased interest in E85 – a fuel blend of up to 85 percent ethanol and gasoline – is price. Many major fueling stations like Holiday are selling E85 for as much as $1 less than regular unleaded gasoline.

“That’s really getting people to the station and filling up with E85,” Moffit said. “Nobody knows better than fuel retailers about consumers’ gripes about high fuel prices. People are really looking for a price. They hear about alternative fuels in the media, and they want a choice at the corner station.”

Only 6,000 gallons of E85 was sold in Minnesota in 1997. Last year, 14 million gallons were sold and it was actually a bit of a down year. Sales have dipped a few times during E85’s rise in Minnesota, but it usually bounces right back. So far this summer, it looks like E85 is surging once again.

“Today, interest is up and prices have stayed relatively stable,” Moffitt said. “More and more people are saying there must be a better solution.”

Ethanol is also a homegrown fuel that is renewable and better for the environment. Price typically plays the largest role in consumers’ decisions, but people also like the idea of using a local product that makes an economic impact in their own community.

“We need to continue reminding consumers that ethanol is homegrown,” said Chad Willis, a corn farmer in Willmar and chair of the National Corn Growers Association’s ethanol committee. “No doubt, price is important. But we can’t forget that a lot of consumers value buying locally produced products that keep money in their own communities.”

Want to find out what the price of E85 is at your local fueling stations? Check out the E85 price forum on the Clean Air Choice website.

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