At a news conference today in southern Minnesota, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced a series of grants as part of the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program, or HBIIP. These awards will provide retailers with a way to offer more choices to consumers at the pump, the Renewable Fuels Association said, noting that there was a 100% success rate for the retailers who received grant application assistance from RFA.
Present for the USDA news conference were RFA Board Members Rick Schwarck, of Absolute Energy, and Randy Doyal, of Al-Corn Clean Fuel, two nearby ethanol plants. Sec. Perdue’s announcement tour today also includes an afternoon visit of RFA member Golden Grain Energy, in Mason City, Iowa, with Sen. Chuck Grassley.
The HBIIP announcement was made at Trail’s Travel Center in Albert Lea, Minn., one of the sites assisted by RFA in the HBIIP application process.
“We would like to sincerely thank the Renewable Fuels Association and Cassie Mullen for their incredible support and guidance throughout the USDA HBIIP application process,” said Rocky Trail, owner of Trail’s Travel Center. “To our surprise and delight they handled almost every aspect of the process and at the end of the day because of their assistance we ultimately walked away with a winning application and were granted 100% of the funds we applied for. Because of their support, in the very near future Trail’s Travel Center, the largest truck stop in the state of Minnesota, will expand even further with the exciting addition of higher blends of ethanol.”
With support from the National Corn Growers Association, RFA worked with Christianson PLLP and others to assist three dozen retailer companies in the grant process prior to the Aug. 13 application deadline. Submitted—and successful—applications assisted by RFA cover more than 200 locations across 21 states. Combined, these locations sell more than 250 million gallons of gasoline annually. RFA provided services and assistance for $21 million in grant requests, which are being now being fulfilled and will be matched with another $31 million in private funding for a total investment in higher blends infrastructure of more than $52 million.
“We were pleased to be able to help a large number of retailers who were excited to take part in this program,” said Mullen, RFA’s Director of Market Development. “With today’s announcement, we’re on track to see more fuel locations with higher ethanol blends soon, supporting rural America’s farmers and ethanol producers. We also want to thank USDA again for launching the HBIIP program and understanding the fundamental link between renewable fuels and the farm economy.”
RFA’s work included outreach to retailers via paid and earned media and educating hundreds of them in a series of webinars. The association also created a password-protected website for sharing documents and other digital tools for them to use in the grant application process. Technical reports were prepared for each company, each covering 35 to 50 pages in length, and site-specific environmental reports were submitted covering more than 2,200 pages.