Minnesota state government agencies are on a pace to double their use of E85 in 2007, according to new figures released by the Department of Administration.
State agencies purchased nearly 167,000 gallons of E85 from retailers during the first half of 2007, surpassing the 165,000 gallons bought in all of 2006. Two of the state's larger fleet operators, the Department of Agriculture and the Pollution Control Agency, are using more than 25 percent E85 for their fuel needs.
"State government is using more E85, which is good for farmers, good for the environment and good for Minnesota," said Governor Tim Pawlenty. "We can do even better, and state agencies are continuing their efforts toward using E85 instead of gasoline."
Retail purchases of E85 (a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline) now account for 6.3% of overall state fuel purchases, compared with 3.2% last year. Year-over-year retail gasoline purchases are also declining, from 5.4 million gallons in 2005 to 5.08 million gallons in 2006.
Approximately 50% of state passenger vehicles, primarily cars and mini-vans, are equipped with flex-fuel technology and can use either E85 or unleaded gasoline. The lack of heavier-duty flex-fuel models has impeded the state's use of E85, however, manufacturers are expanding their flex-fuel offerings. Flex-fuel police cars will be available from two manufacturers in the 2008 model year.
The availability of E85 at more than 300 retailers statewide is also helping raise the state's use of the fuel. In 2005, E85 was available at only about 100 retailers, concentrated mostly in southern and central Minnesota. Today, E85 is available from Ada to Worthington and Browns Valley to Duluth.