November 2006 Archives

Peter Rugg of the Muscatine Journal reports that there is, in fact, a future for renewable fuels according to a researcher of Iowa State University.

With regards to E85, Rugg writes that John Mironowski:

.... believes the mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline will be an essential component of the bio-fuel industry, and that as infrastructure expands, there will be no reason for automobile manufacturers not to develop compatible engines.

We can only assume (and hope) that the industry is moving in this direction.

Does E85 Really Cost That Much?

November 17, 2006 10:32 AM | 0 Comments
It’s becoming one of the age old arguments. Did Babe Ruth really curse the Sox? Does the Lochness Monster really exist? Does E85 really cost that much to install?
Okay. So maybe it’s not that quite popular of a debate, however, among the industry experts, the quarrel that E85 costs too much is starting to pick up some speed.
The case for station owners is that not only is E85 expensive to install, it’s not selling, so the lack of consumer interest is a major obstacle in getting E85 off the ground nation wide. Granted, there are reasons that the 85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline formula isn’t popular among the masses -- not many people have invested in a flexible fuel vehicle just yet.
The numbers don’t measure up. It has been reported that a dispensing system can cost $75,000, whereas converting a single pump can cost $15,000. What could make the difference is many states offer incentive programs to assist with the installation and implementation of E85 pumps and stations, such as tax credits and fuel tax exemptions. But it seems that it’s not so much about the refunds available to providers as it is more about the cost of equipment and the current lack of sales that don’t pay.
This article reports that it costs approximately $200,000 to fit an entire gas station for the E85 option.  (I’ve yet to find a source that also cites this price.)
(By the way, in that article, the reporter makes it sound like the $.54 tariff per gallon on corn juice hurts the, who the heck imports corn juice? Do we not have enough here?)
According to The Bay City Times:
As far as biodiesel pumps go, we've got to wonder whether any new equipment or converted gear is even needed.
Bus fleets, truck fleets, farmers and others report that their expensive engines run better than ever using biodiesel blends.
No changes needed.
In a time of war, impending gas crisis, natural disasters, et al, it would, you know, be wise to start thinking about moving forward with the E85….

Sir Richard Branson's FFV

November 15, 2006 4:18 PM | 0 Comments

Seems that the Virgin boss is quite the environmentally sound driver. Not only is Sir Richard Branson an adventurer at heart, he supports E85 and is now zipping around in his Saab 9-5 BioPower, a flexible fuel vehicle.

According to, a UK motoring search engine, Sir Richard said

“I am convinced that biofuels are the way forward, both for the car and aviation industries, which is a vision we share with Saab. Now we need to extend that vision to others.  It's high-time that flex-fuel cars, such as the Saab 9-5 BioPower, are given the same concessions in the UK as other green cars, like for example, exemption from London's Congestion Charge.” 

It's nice to see a more reknown icon support the efforts of bioethanol. Goodonya, Sir Richard.

The Big 3 and Pres. Bush

November 14, 2006 11:05 AM | 0 Comments

Seems that the three big chiefs in the auto industry have a few concerns that they'd like to address with Mr. President.  According to (via MSNBC) executives from the three largest American-based auto makers will bare the truth to the President about healtchare, trade policies and yes, even alternative fuels.

Earlier in June, the motor company triumvirate (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) committed to producing double the amount of flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) in an effort to put the pressure on Congress to make more available renewable fuels, such as E85.

This week, however, the same three companies are concerned about the lack of distribution of ethanol and, according to the report, will plea for a wider distribution of the alternative fuel. The lack of E85 availability makes the big three's promise seem moot, what, with all of these FFVs and nary a pump to utilize the stuff. It almost seems silly.

Despite the rigorous attempts to heighten awareness of E85 and alternative fuels, the Governement (President Bush)still questions investing in it. In the article, it says:

Al Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council, told the Financial Times last week that Mr Bush wanted to ensure there were the right "incentives to invest" in alternative fuels.

I have to admit that I kind of scratched my head at this statement because, first of all, what better incentive is there than that of giving to your homeland? Investing in domestic fuels, as I've stated many times over in this blog, is the direction we should be moving in for the obvious reasons that we won't rely so heavily on fuels elsewhere, which, as we've all learned has caused some, well, problems.

But...but....the article also reports

Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, said last week the president wanted to reaffirm his support for the US car industry's "growth and success".

Hmm. Interesting. Perhaps reaffirming support should come in the form of making available E85 and thus, our motor companies can produce more FFVs, and henceforth, we'll be a more self-reliant country. I realize it's a lot more complicated than it sounds, but I just don't understand what the obstacles are.


Upon further searches, VeraSun an ethanol producer, quotes GWB on their Website as saying:

"In low concentrations, ethanol can be used in any vehicle. And with minor modifications, vehicles can run on fuel blend that includes 85 percent ethanol and only 15 percent gasoline. ... ethanol helps communities to meet clean air standards, farmers to find new markets for their products, and America to replace foreign crude oil with a renewable source grown right here in the nation's heartland. Together, ethanol and biodiesel present a tremendous opportunity to diversify our supply of fuel for cars and buses and trucks and heavy-duty vehicles."

So, to revisit the notion that Bush is waiting for the right incentives to invest, one would believe based on the aforementioned statement that there are, in fact, incentives. Again, the obstacles are not clear to me. Thoughts?

Speaking of Minnesota...

November 13, 2006 5:05 PM | 0 Comments

It's not quite the news as the previous entry....

However, it was noted in a report issued by the AP that the Dems, particularly gubernatorial candidate Mike Hatch, chalks up the loss of Minnesota to a lack of knowledge of E85. Well, ok it was one of three things, but let's focus on the E85 snafu for a moment.

In the article, it says

Hatch said he suffered in areas of rural Minnesota with plants that make E85, a fuel blend that contains 85 percent ethanol. Hatch describes his poor showing in those areas without mentioning the precise incident or lieutenant governor nominee Judi Dutcher by name.

One week before Election Day, Dutcher was caught on film flubbing questions about E85 during a stop in Alexandria.

It was because of this that they were slammed in western and southern counties which, as luck would have it, are where 17 ethanol plants are located. Oops.

So the moral of the story is, if you're running for governor in a state that has ethanol plants, do your homework and learn about it so you don't look like a fool when it's time to talk to the press.

The latest in E85 news today. Check it out:

In order to meet the 20 percent standard, the state plans to increase the use of E85, a fuel containing 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Part of the state’s plan to increase ethanol usage is to make E85 conversion kits available to the general public.
Until recently, only vehicles designated by the manufacturer as “flexible-fuel” could use E85. However, a Brazilian technology called FlexTek now allows E85 to be used as a fuel in most modern fuel injected engines. FlexTek is US patent-pending, and owned by XcelPlus Global Holdings, Inc. (Pink Sheets: XPGH) . Minnesota State University, Mankato Center for Automotive Research (MnCAR) will be conducting research on FlexTek conversion kits.
In a formal letter requesting the EPA to allow Minnesota to be a test state for E85 fuel conversion kits, Governor Pawlenty noted that FlexTek was developed in Brazil and is currently used by more 50,000 vehicles there. Brian McClung, director of communications for the Governor’s office stated “Certainly, using E85 conversion kits would be a great tool to help us meet that (20% E85) goal.”
In an October 2006 article in Ethanol Producer Magazine (, McClung said that expanding E85 use and stations in Minnesota has been challenging because both car companies and oil companies currently require greater demand by consumers before they are willing to make E85 more available. “ The governor has proposed testing the E85 conversion kits as a way to break through the chicken and egg dilemma,” McClung said, noting that Brazil was able to transition to greater ethanol use by using conversion kits.
FlexTek has been the subject of NBC and FOX affiliate newscasts. According to Bill R. Smith, President of XcelPlus Global Holdings, Inc. " We are very excited at the political support and media attention our products are now getting as we pursue EPA certification.
XcelPlus Global Holdings markets its technologies through strategic trading partners including XcelPlus International Inc (Other OTC:XLPI.PK - News) which manufactures and markets the Flextek, as well as a line of automobile alternative fuel and chemical products.

The Elections and Alternative Power

November 10, 2006 12:12 PM | 0 Comments

The outcome of the elections this week triggered a period of what will surely be a power-sharing effort, what with the Dems taking the 4-year rule out from the Republicans.

But in all of this “power-sharing” I can’t help but wonder, beyond the changes we will see in Iraq, immigration reforms, etc – will we see a change in power, and by power I mean alternative power resources?

The people have spoken and it’s clear that the administration wants to do things. We are in an era of change and the pendulum has certainly gone the other way. Perhaps it’s not out of the ordinary to assume that, with this change, maybe there will be a focus on our own resources for alternative fuels?

Maybe the government will push for a more widespread availability of E85. Maybe we’ll invest more in “greener” energies. Maybe we’ll live to tell the next generation about how we removed our dependency on foreign fuels and started to rely on our own?


It’s too early to tell what will happen. The focus is primarily on foreign affairs, the war in Iraq and other reforms. But, as a person who utilizes wind and hydropower as a supplier for my own home, I hope that we will also see a change in the energy and fuel sector as well.

Gov. Schwarzenegger offered some positive commentary on a grant to the state of California for 15 public E85 stations furnished by the DoE.

Statement below (via One Bakersfield Online)

"This half million dollar grant is great news for the state and will help build 15 additional ethanol fueling stations to give Californians another option that will help diversify our energy supply. It will help clean our air, encourage more people to purchase flex fuel vehicles and allow Californians to continue leading the nation in environmental protection.

"The choice to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and the move to a cleaner economy is a choice we make for the future. Since I became Governor, I have worked hard to bring Californians an alternative to oil. I signed an executive order to create the Hydrogen Highway and build a network of hydrogen fueling stations along these roadways and in the urban centers that they connect to by 2010."

E85 Prices Down

November 1, 2006 10:44 AM | 0 Comments

Looks like the price of E85 is down....just under $2 in Midwestern states.

Full release for details:

October turned out to be an exceptional month for drivers using E85 as the price of E85 continued to fall across the Nation. Not only is the price falling but the price spread between unleaded and E85 has widened to roughly .40 cents per gallon in many areas.

The fuels price spread is becoming a strong incentive for consumers who have never tried E85 to make the switch and for ethanol to gain market share against the Oil Companies gasoline products.

The price of E85 is below $2.00 a gallon in 7 States, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Missouri, Illinois and Nebraska.

Markets of interest include: Missouri where the lowest price of E85 in the Nation was reported in Perryville at $1.61.

Maybe even more remarkable is that in Nebraska E85 prices which maintained the Nations highest average e85 price over the summer (at one point over $3 per gallon) dropped to $1.99. is finding that the lowest prices for E85 is almost exclusively located at independent stations and or stations that buy directly form the ethanol producers. Two examples of such companies are Renew E85 stations in Wisconsin supplied by Utica Energy and the BreakTime stations in Missouri supplied by ethanol producer Mid-Missouri Energy and distributed by MFA Oil. These companies are consistently able to deliver E85 to the consumer for less than unleaded.

Forecast: Expect E85 to rise .05-.10 cents a gallon starting in November as more gasoline is added to the ethanol creating "winter blend," where the standard ratio becomes 70% ethanol and 30% gasoline compared to summer blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Winter blend is designed to let Flex Fuel vehicles start easier in during the cold winter months. is the first and only site dedicated to covering the price of E85.

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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