Minnesota leads region in alternative fuels growth, use

By The American Lung Association in Minnesota | January 03, 2018

Minnesota again led the region in the growth and use of cleaner alternatives to traditional petroleum fuels in 2017, according to the American Lung Association in Minnesota. The U.S. DOE’s Alternative Fuels Data Center lists 763 public and private alternative fuel stations located in Minnesota, compared to 601 in Wisconsin, 416 in Iowa, 124 in South Dakota and 76 in North Dakota. The alternative fuels sold in the state include ethanol, biodiesel, electric vehicle charging stations, propane fueling stations and compressed natural gas (CNG).

In 2017, 40 new E85 stations opened throughout Minnesota, five more stations than opened in 2016. E85 is an ethanol-based fuel that can be used in flex fuel vehicles designed to run on either gasoline or on ethanol blends like E85. The total number of public and private E85 stations in Minnesota is 372, the most of any state in the nation.

Stations offering the relatively new 88 octane gasoline showed the largest boost in 2017. It consists of 85 percent gasoline and 15 percent ethanol, so it is sometimes called E15. The lower cost, higher octane fuel was added to the choices at the pump at 182 Minnesota stations during 2017. Approved by the U.S. EPA for use in vehicles 2001 or newer, E15 is the fastest growing new fuel in the state. A total of 245 stations in Minnesota now offer E15.

For the fourth consecutive year, Minnesota increased the biodiesel content in most of the diesel fuel sold in 2017 to a 10 percent (B10) blend in the warm weather months and a 5 percent (B5) blend in the winter. On May 1, 2018, Minnesota will increase its warm weather biodiesel standard to 20 percent (B20), the first state in the country to use a B20 blend statewide. As in past years, next winter the blend will return to B5.

The number of electric vehicles and charging stations in the state continued to steadily rise in 2017. There are an estimated 5,515 electric vehicles on Minnesota roads in 2017, with 286 public charging stations. In 2017, Lakeville Independent School District 194 became the first in the state to operate an all-electric school bus. The bus was a featured exhibit at the Minnesota State Fair this summer.

In November, Gov. Mark Dayton signed Executive Order 12-17, which directs state agencies to reduce fossil fuel consumption by state-owned vehicles by 30 percent by 2027. Many of the state vehicles are flex fuel, and the state has added 323 hybrid vehicles and 15 electric vehicle to its fleet.

The American Lung Association in Minnesota coordinates Twin Cities Clean Cities Coalition, a statewide alternative fuel program that is one of the sub-awardee of a $4.9 million, three-year DOE grant to promote the use of alternative fuels on I-94 from Moorhead, Minnesota, to Port Huron, Michigan. Twin Cities Clean Cities Coalition also has its own DOE grant project to promote electric vehicles in the Midwest, Midwest EVOLVE.

For more on the alternative fuel choices available in Minnesota, visit CleanAirChoice.org.

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