Written by Jonathan Eisenthal
Coborn’s wants the more than 80 percent of drivers out there who could be using E15 to know about the latest clean fuel choice.
The St. Cloud-based grocery chain will offer discounts on ethanol-blends at its fueling stations on a series of dates in late September — the more ethanol, the higher the discount: 15 cents per gallon off E15, 30 cents off E30 and 85 cents off E85.
Any vehicle built in 2001 or later is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency to run on E15 (a blend of 15 percent homegrown ethanol and 85 percent regular unleaded). This means more than four out of five cars on the road today can operate on E15.
“I use E15 myself, off and on, and I don’t notice any difference in performance,” said Ryan Rothwell,” the convenience store division manager for Coborn’s, which has locations in the Dakotas and Wisconsin, as well as central Minnesota. “What I notice is the lower price. It’s easy on the budget. Because ethanol is more economical than gasoline, retailers like Coborn’s can pass the lower price on to the consumer.”
Across Minnesota, E15 costs 10 cents less per gallon than regular unleaded.
“We hope the special sale will get folks who don’t know about E15 to come in and try it. Once they see how well it drives, they’ll be hooked because it costs less than regular gasoline,” Rothwell said.
Coborn’s prides itself on being a company with a strong connection to small town Minnesota. Rothwell points out that local ethanol plants and the revenue they bring to farmers helps strengthen the economy across the state. Farmers involved with local county corn grower groups have volunteered to pump the ethanol-blended fuel at the Coborn’s promotions so they can hand out goody bags and answer questions about the benefits of biofuels.
Rothwell notes that ethanol blends are better for the environment, too. Another partner in the 11 promotional events is American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest. ALAMN has promoted ethanol fuels for two decades because of ethanol’s ability to reduce particulate emissions that lead to cancer, asthma, and other respiratory diseases.
“We would really like to see E15 become the standard fuel because it saves the consumer money, it offers higher octane (88 as opposed to 87) and it’s better for the environment,” said Mitch Coulter, Marketing and Biofuels Director for Minnesota Corn Growers Association. He notes that Minnesota currently has 44 locations that sell E15, with a total of 135 flex-fuel pumps.
An $8 million dollar USDA Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership grant, combined with matches from local organizations including the Corn Growers, could add 165 stations and 620 flex-fuel pumps to Minnesota by 2017.
Calendar of Coborn’s ethanol fuel discount promotions:
Monday, September 19: Hastings (4-6pm)
Tuesday, September 20: Glencoe (11am-1pm) – Willmar (4-6pm)
Wednesday, September 21: Long Prairie (11am-1pm) – St. Cloud (4-6pm)
Thursday, September 22: West Fargo (11am-1pm)
Friday, September 23: Princeton (4-6pm)
Tuesday, September 27: Ramsey (4-6pm)
Wednesday, September 28: Pipestone (4-6pm)
Thursday, September 29: New Prague (11am-1pm) – Belle Plaine (4-6pm)