Iowa proves state programs drive local biodiesel availability

With grant funding from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Board, 158 biodiesel retail pumps and 48 terminal locations have opened in Iowa since 2006
By Ron Kotrba | July 17, 2013

The Iowa Biodiesel Board put out a press release today on growth in the state’s biodiesel distribution infrastructure thanks in large part to grants available through the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Board, on which the IBB holds a seat.

Since 2006, 158 new biodiesel retail pumps and 48 terminal locations have opened around the state, giving all Iowans greater access to the renewable fuel, the IBB said.

“Iowa produces the most biodiesel of any state, yet surveys show 47 percent of diesel vehicle owners here do not know where to find it,” said Randy Olson, executive director of the IBB. “This additional infrastructure helps biodiesel continue to become fully integrated into Iowa’s fuel supply.”

The IRFIP assists retail operators of motor fuel dispensing sites or fueling stations in the conversion of their equipment to allow for the expanded use of renewable fuels in Iowa. The 27 biodiesel projects in Fiscal Year 2013, which just ended, received funding totaling about $1.2 million.  

Some examples of funded projects include Sapp Bros. Travel Center in Council Bluffs, STAR Energy (a division of Growmark) in Fort Dodge, and a Kum-and-Go in Ankeny, the hometown of IBB and the Iowa Soybean Association.  Diamond Oil Co. used a $100,000 grant to open a heated terminal facility in Des Moines, which helps streamline the distribution process by offering preblended biodiesel to smaller distributors year-round.

“This program is good for Iowa because it empowers more consumers to use their own state’s products rather than importing our energy,” said Harold J. Hommes, program administrator with the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship. “We don’t have refineries or fossil fuels here, so money leaves the state to pay for those energy products. But if we produce those in a renewable manner here, we’re helping Iowa farmers and fuel producers, and then those dollars are multiplied throughout Iowa.”

The grants require matching funds. Petroleum distributors must commit to providing biodiesel blends for a set number of years—usually five. Agricultural cooperatives are also eligible for the grants. This increases on-farm availability, a priority of IBB.    

Since the program began in 2006, IRFIB has funded 206 biodiesel pump and terminal projects, with additional funding for E85 ethanol stations.

To see a list of projects, visit the Iowa Biodiesel Board website.