Minnesota pumps up vehicle fleet's use of E85

Minnesota state agencies are on pace to purchase close to 1 million gallons of E85 in 2010, meaning nearly one-fifth of the retail fuel bought by the agencies is now a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

Stateline Midwest, Volume 19, No. 10 - November 2010

Minnesotastate agencies are on pace to purchase close to 1 million gallons of E85 in 2010.

Officials told Minnesota Public Radio that nearly one-fifth of the retail fuel bought by the agencies is now a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Over the past five years, E85 use by the state’s vehicle fleet has increased tenfold while gasoline purchases have declined nearly 10 percent.

In 2004, a governor’s executive order directed state departments to reduce the use of gasoline and created a committee to build up Minnesota’s E85 infrastructure. A 2006 order then directed state employees to “whenever practical, use E85 fuel when operating flexible-fuel vehicles.” (The state’s fleet includes about 2,500 flex-fuel cars, pickup trucks and vans.)

Other states in the Midwest have E85 requirements of their own for state vehicle fleets. According to a U.S. Department of Energy database on ethanol incentives and laws, Nebraska’s fleet of flex-fuel vehicles must be fueled by E85 or biodiesel blends whenever these fuels “are reasonably available.” Iowa requires that 60 percent of the fuel used by the state’s flex-fuel vehicles be E85. In addition, 10 percent of new light-duty vehicles purchased by the state of Iowa must be capable of running on alternative fuels. A full list of state policies is available at http://www.afdc.energy.gov.