Fuel pumps in Iowa that offer higher concentrations of ethanol are becoming more popular. At a Coralville gas station just off Interstate 80, Ohio motorist Marcella Balin just finished filling her car with E-85, which was selling for $2.39 a gallon.
“Over the regular unleaded gasoline, it’s literally here a dollar-ten-cents less per gallon,” Balin says. “I just calculated I saved over $15 by waiting to fill up here. It’s amazing.” She refers to waiting because there are only about 150 Iowa stations selling E-85.
Monte Shaw, director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, says bargain-hunting motorists are seeking out the yellow-hosed pumps. Shaw says the state Revenue Department’s quarterly statistics tell the story.
“Almost a million gallons more E-85 was sold in the second quarter than in the first quarter,” according to Shaw. He says every indication points toward continued growth for the fuel.
“We actually think third quarter sales, that we’re in right now, almost wrapping up, will be even better,” Shaw says, “because in the second quarter, we just started to see these really large price spreads start to occur.”
State fuel analyst Harold Hommes the growth in popularity of E-85 boils down to simple economics, as it’s a dollar a gallon cheaper.
“Consumers are driven,” Hommes says. “Yes, they’re smart enough to know that it probably doesn’t quite get the mileage. But, once you get down with the math, it still computes to a favorable situation to that person who’s selecting E-85.”
Hommes says E-85 prices might drop even further as the new crop corn begins moving to ethanol plants this fall.