By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With a snip of the ceremonial ribbon, Minnesota motorists grabbed their first fill-ups of a higher blend of ethanol fuels.

Rick Bohnen’s Minnoco station at 60th and Penn was pumping a lot of it on Wednesday.

“Once the general public accepts E15, I think it will be a domino effect,” Bohnen said. “Other stations will have to put it in to stay competitive.”

For starters, E15 is 15 cents cheaper than regular unleaded, which has 10 percent ethanol. E30 is 28 cents a gallon less, though it is designed to be burned in flex fuel vehicles only.

Customers like Joe Max liked what they saw.

“It’s cheaper,” Max said. “And this is one of the first stations in the country to offer it. And if I can get cheaper gas, I might as well.”

The new blend of E15 is only designed to be burned in vehicles from 2001 and newer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Lance Klatt’s vehicle is among those that qualify.

“I think it’s a great consumer choice. It’s the right direction to alternative fuels and it’s nice to have a new energy source in the marketplace,” Klatt said.

It’s also good for Minnesota corn growers, whose organization is helping subsidize the venture. So too is the Minnesota Lung Association, which hails E15 and E30 because the fuels burn cleaner and emit fewer pollutants into the air.

Still, the higher blended ethanol fuels are not compatible with older vehicles and most small engines, such as lawnmowers, snow blowers, outboards and motorcycles.

Experts at Dunwoody say if your engine and its oil aren’t designed for ethanol fuels, you risk long-term damage.

“It’s not corrosive, but it takes away the lubrication properties. And with our internal combustion engines we rely on lubrication to keep the engine moving,” instructor Stephan Reinarts said.

Minnoco is a coalition of independent filling station owners who are committed to ethanol.

By late November you can expect to see four of these stations converted with the E15 and E30 pumps across the metro.


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