$7 million federal grant secured by administration expands access to E85 ethanol fuel at Sheetz locations
Middletown, PA - Pennsylvania’s travelers now have expanded opportunities for filling their vehicles with renewable fuels thanks to a federal grant the Wolf administration secured in 2015 from the United States Department of Agriculture. The $7 million grant allowed the Sheetz Corporation to expand ethanol availability to 340 more fuel pumps at 77 store locations across the state.
Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding today joined representatives from Sheetz, the USDA and the ethanol industry at one of the new locations showcasing the new infrastructure.
“Biofuels are an important component of the diverse energy portfolio that will power our country in the future,” said Redding. “Alternative fuels create new markets for agricultural products, which can lead to greater production and better prices for our farmers. So while the agriculture industry is helping to grow the feedstock to produce biofuels, we also need to be sure the market exists for these alternative fuels. That requires making access more convenient for consumers. I thank Sheetz for partnering with us, and we thank the USDA for helping us put in place the pumps to meet consumers’ demands.”
The new infrastructure supports pumps that dispense grades of ethanol from E15 (15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline) to E85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline). Most gasoline pumps typically deliver a fuel with a blend of up to 10 percent ethanol. Higher concentrations of ethanol require specialized pumps, storage, and handling systems, which has limited the fuel’s widespread adoption in Pennsylvania.
“Since our founding in 1952, Sheetz has been built on maximizing convenience and choice for our customers, either through our MTO touch screen order points or through this higher octane, cleaner-burning fuel,” said Mike Lorenz, executive vice president of petroleum and supply for Sheetz. “We are proud to partner with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and USDA to bring E15 to our customers.”
The $7 million grant is part of the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership program administered by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). Staff with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture submitted the grant on behalf of Sheetz in 2015 and provided oversight of project implementation, including record keeping, performance reporting, and compliance enforcement.
Vehicles that are compatible with ethanol fuels are marked with a yellow “FlexFuel” badge and may feature additional language regarding the use of ethanol blend fuels. These vehicles can be filled with blends ranging from E15 to E85. Ethanol contains slightly less power than traditional gasoline, so fuel economy may be lower when running vehicles with a high-ethanol blend compared to using gasoline.
E85 pumps at Sheetz fuel dispensers are marked in yellow, while the E15 blend pumps are marked in blue. Gasoline nozzles, for dispensing regular, mid-grade, and premium unleaded gasoline, remain black. Consult your owner’s manual to ensure that your vehicle can safely use E85 or E15 ethanol fuels.
USDA has reimbursed 75 percent of project costs incurred by Sheetz. Sheetz has invested $3.2 million in the public-private partnership, for a total project investment of $10.2 million.
For more information about the program, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/energy-programs/index.
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