Convenience Store News

MAR 2017

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60 Convenience Store News | MARCH 2017 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM Gasoline + Diesel + Ethanol + LNG/CNG + Electric MOTOR FUELS RaceTrac Petroleum, and Family Express. As of December 2016, more than 4,000 E85/E15 dispensers were installed in 28 states, and O'Brien said he expects a minimum of 1,000 retailer sites sell- ing E15 to be in place by May 2017. Currently, most of the sites selling E15 are located in a large swath of the central United States stretching from the upper Midwest to the South. There are several reasons why innovative retailers are adding E15, according to O'Brien. "E15 is usually about 3 cents to 10 cents a gallon less expensive than regular gas," he explained. He also noted that some retailers are benefitting from trading RINs (also known as renew- able identification numbers) under the Environmental Protection Agency's Renewable Fuel Standard. Consumer concerns about engine failure from using higher ethanol blends have diminished greatly as E15 use has grown, he added. Consumers "have driven more than 500 million miles on E15 without a single reported incident," O'Brien pointed out. Growth Energy, a trade association composed of ethanol makers, has helped educate the consumer about ethanol. "Our research shows that the more consumers know about ethanol, the more favorably they view it," he said. One best-practice education example is hiring "brand ambassadors" to work at the fuel dispens- ers and tell customers it's OK to use E15 and E85. Retailers like Murphy USA and Kum & Go have expe- rienced increases of between 88 percent and 93 percent in ethanol sales from utilizing brand ambassadors, according to O'Brien. Other retailers have drawn attention to the envi- ronmentally "clean" aspect of E15 while supporting another good cause. In October, Sheetz, Murphy USA, save money and do something better for the environment. Well over 4,000 outlets in the United States are already selling E15, a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline that's approved for use in 2001 or newer cars. "You see some companies that are visionaries in this industry," Tarver noted. If looked at in isolation, signifi- cant growth is also still happening in E85 (15 percent gasoline and 85 percent ethanol), electricity and hydrogen, he continued. Despite the equipment challenges for CNG/NGH, there are 1,200 fueling locations for fleets; and the federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards are pushing for hydrogen to reach 58 miles per gallon by 2020. Tarver urged attendees of the Alternative Fuels Summit to do their part in carbon mitiga- tion, noting that consumer driving emits 1.2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year; retail petroleum is commoditized, with the buying decision driven by price and conve- nience; and carbon-neu - trality regulation is a real threat to growth and profit in the U.S. and abroad. The carbon-dioxide emissions of consumer and fleet vehicles can be neutral- ized through proportionate invest- ments in audited and certified carbon offset projects and local tree-planting projects. The net result is improved customer and employee engagement, reten- tion, revenue and margin, according to the former Kroger executive. E15 IN CONVENIENCE Expanding on the topic of E15, Mike O'Brien, vice president of market development for Growth Energy, provided participants with an update on the adop- tion of E15 in the convenience channel. In addition to hundreds of single-store owners, several larger chains have become early innovators in selling higher blends of ethanol fuel. Among them, he reported, are Kum & Go, Sheetz, MAPCO, Murphy USA, Thorntons, The third-annual Convenience Store News Alternative Fuels Summit brought together c-store retailers from across the country that offer alternative fuels for a roundtable discussion.

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