The U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program is a voluntary, locally based government/industry partnership focused on mobilizing local stakeholders to expand the use of alternatives to gasoline and diesel fuel. One way this is done is building and expanding local refueling infrastructure and increasing public awareness of alternative fuels. Our local Minnesota affiliate, Twin Cities Clean Cities Coalition (TC4), has long been a supporter of building up E85 in our state and recently won several recognitions among its peers.
Tracking the value of alternative fuels
The Alternative Fuel Price Report provides real-world prices for a variety of alternative fuels, including E85, biodiesel, propane autogas, and compressed natural gas (CNG). The report also collects cost data for traditional petroleum fuels, namely gasoline and diesel. Each quarter, prices are collected voluntarily from fuel stations through the work of local Clean Cities partners.
The report offers interesting facts about fuel costs, both in Minnesota and nationwide. In the state of Minnesota, E85 prices averaged 60-78 cents less per gallon than the price of gasoline. Since more than 90% of the prices collected for this report were ethanol prices, we can safely say this is a good depiction of E85 in our state. Regional changes can also be identified. For example, the Rocky Mountain region saw the largest percentage price increases for both gasoline (10.0%) and for diesel fuel (9.69%) this summer.
In November, TC4 was recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy for submitting the most fuel prices to the quarterly Alternative Fuels Pricing Report that all 90+ Clean Cities coalitions provide to the federal government. The award was presented at the national Clean Cities Training Workshop, which this year was held at Cocoa Beach, Florida.
The Alternative Fuel Price Report is a valuable tool to determine the real value of cleaner-burning fuels. Gathering these prices four times a year is a sometimes tedious job, but the results speak for themselves. Congratulations to Twin Cities Clean Cities Coalition for earning this special distinction, and for helping us all understand the true price of transportation a little better.
Offering drivers more options
In 2018, more than forty retail locations in Minnesota added E85 fuels at their stations. Some of these stations were newly built while others were existing stations that wanted to add more fuel choices for their customers. Minnesota has long been a nationwide leader in the number of E85 retail locations available to drivers, and the forty+ stations opening this year further solidifies that designation. Minnesota has 55 percent more E85 stations than the state with the next highest number. Using ethanol blends is not only good for the local economy and reducing tailpipe emissions, it also helps the country move closer to energy independence, something very important to Clean Cities coalitions nationwide. TC4 received an award for the most E85 infrastructure builds in 2018 in the country.
The Twin Cities Clean Cities coalition received a third award at the 2018 Clean Cities Training Workshop for the highest number of executed outreach events. Part of the mission of Clean Cities is to increase public awareness of alternative fuels, which often happens through events. In Minnesota, biofuels like E85 were the dominant focus of TC4’s public education events. Events such as fuel discounts and fuel promotions like the ones hosted over the last two months in and around the metro area were among the most popular events. Coordinated by the American Lung Association in Minnesota, TC4 is one of the members of the Clean Air Choice Team, which supports fuel promotion events.
Congratulations to TC4 and thank you for helping promote the availability and growth of E85 in our state!