Liz Nalezny senses a trend approaching and she wants her Holiday Station store in Plymouth, Minn., to be at the forefront.
With support from a public-private coalition of groups that includes the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA), Nalezny recently installed flex fuel pumps that dispense E15, E30 and E85 in addition to regular unleaded gasoline.
Her customers now have more choices when they pull in to fill up.
“Not a lot of people are doing this right now,” Nalezny said. “But in the future, everyone will be doing it. I’m trying to get on it earlier.”
If you’re not familiar with E15, E30 or E85, here’s a quick primer:
- Regular unleaded gasoline is blended with 10 percent ethanol.
- E15 is a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent regular gasoline. It is approved for use in all vehicles made in 2001 of after.
- If you have a flex fuel vehicle, you can fill up with E30 (30 percent ethanol) or E85 (85 percent ethanol).
- Fuels blended with higher amounts of ethanol burn cleaner than gasoline and typically cost less. At Nalezny’s Holiday Store (located off County Road 24 in Plymouth, a Twin Cities suburb) on Tuesday morning, E15 was priced 10 cents less than regular unleaded and E85 was 90 cents less.
Helping consumers understand the different blends and the environmental and economic benefits derived from each is major challenge faced by ethanol supporters. It’s no different for Nalezny and other fuel station owners looking to introduce higher blends to their customers.
“Education is the hardest,” she said. “It takes time. You have to talk to people one-on-one. Once you explain it to them, a lot of them say, ‘Why haven’t I heard of that? Of course I’ll try it.'”
The fact that ethanol is clean, renewable and homegrown has proven to be a major selling point.
“Typically, people around here want to buy local and be a little greener,” Nalezny said.
In addition to the Plymouth Holiday and an independent station in Wayzata, Liz’s family owns a station in Plymouth that soon will be offering E15 under the Minnoco brand.
Nalezny wanted to offer her customers more fueling choices, and weaved the flex fuel pump installation into other enhancements at the station that included installing a car wash and new signage.
“It was actually easier than I thought it would be,” she said. “I was concerned about labeling and signage requirements, but that was actually really easy.”
Now it’s all about helping people become familiar with the fuel blends they might not have heard of before.
“We’re focused on getting the word out and doing some aggressive marketing to get people to try it,” she said.