A state board has handed out just over $1.5 million in grants to gas stations that promise to install a new pump to dispense the higher blend of E85 ethanol or soybean-based biodiesel.

The Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Board was created about three years ago to award subsidies to gas and diesel retailers for pump conversions. “In order to get those local retailers to convert their facilities to handle E85 and biodiesel, we do grants of $30,000 to $50,000 to each,” Iowa Dempartment of Economic Development director Mike Tramontina says.

In mid-December, 43 applicants were notified they’d received one of those grants. “This will take us up to about 113 E85 dispensers around the state. There is a concerted effort to market the program into heavier-trafficked areas, but it’s up to the retailers whether they are going to step up and try to do that,” Tramontina says. “You have to change your equipment and there are issues around the warranty for the vehicles and the warranty for the pumps, and so we haven’t exactly been able to get the most amount of pumps into areas that have the most amount of cars.”

The state grant program to convert pumps to dispense either E85 or biodiesel ends December 31. The board that hands out the grants will meet again in January to review any applications that are submitted by the end of this year and decide which should receive a grant.

Tramontina, the D.E.D. director, chooses a flex-fuel vehicle from the state fleet whenever he travels on state business. “E85 consumption is growing rapidly in Iowa. It’s gone up at least 50 percent a year for the past several years,” Tramontina says. “One of the things that we need to do is have more availability (of E85) for consumers, but also we need the car companies to produce more flex-fuel vehicles — but even the number of flex-fuel vehicles is growing steadily.”

Below is the list of the 43 gasoline/diesel retailers which received the latest round of state grants for converting pumps:

· Unity Biofuels – Olds – E85 dispenser

· Unity Biofuels – Mt. Pleasant – E85 dispenser

· Unity Biofuels – Mt. Pleasant – Biodiesel dispenser

· Pilot Travel Centers – Atalissa – Biodiesel dispenser

· Northwest Ethanol Supply – Orange City – Tank vehicle

· East Central Iowa Coop – Waterloo – Tank vehicle

· Linn Coop Oil Company – Marion – E85 dispenser

· Linn Coop Oil Company – Marion – Biodiesel dispenser

· Multi-County Oil Company – Williamsburg – E85 dispenser

· Quick Oil Company – Bagley – Biodiesel terminal

· Quick Oil Company – Ogden – Biodiesel terminal

· Quick Oil Company – Perry – Biodiesel terminal

· Pioneer’s Rest Area – Dubuque – E85 dispenser

· Pioneer’s Rest Area – Dubuque – Biodiesel dispenser

· Mike’s Inc – Akron – Tank vehicle

· Southern Iowa Oil – Corydon – Tank vehicle

· Dows Property Group – Dows – E85 dispenser

· Dows Property Group – Dows – Biodiesel dispenser

· Mother Hubbard – Davenport – E85 dispenser

· H & A Mini Mart Corporation – Des Moines – Biodiesel dispenser

· Kum & Go LC – Sloan – Biodiesel dispenser

· Kum & Go LC – Ankeny – E85 dispenser

· Hayes Oil Company – Battle Creek – Tank vehicle

· Cedar County Cooperative – Tipton – Biodiesel dispenser

· Heller Implement Inc – Dunlap – Tank vehicle

· Farm Service Cooperative/FSC Mart – Corning – E85 dispenser

· Don’s Motor Mart – Lake Mills – E85 dispenser

· Aspinwall Cooperative Company – Manning – E85 dispenser

· Diamond Oil Company – Perry – Tank vehicle

· Cobb Oil Company Inc – Washington – Tank vehicle

· Farmers Cooperative – Marble Rock – Tank vehicle

· Mulgrew Oil Company – Dubuque – Biodiesel dispenser

· Kum & Go LC – Clear Lake – E85 dispenser

· Kum & Go LC – Clear Lake – Biodiesel dispenser

· Kum & Go LC – Johnston – E85 dispenser

· Kum & Go LC – Johnston – Biodiesel dispenser

· Kum & Go LC – Urbandale – E85 dispenser

· Kum & Go LC – Urbandale – Biodiesel dispenser

· Community Oil Company – Carroll – Tank vehicle

· New Century FS – Melbourne – Tank vehicle

· Agriland FS, Inc – Columbus Junction – Tank vehicle

· Agriland FS, Inc – Washington – E85 dispenser

· Agriland FS, Inc – Washington – Biodiesel dispenser