In 2015, Virginia and Maryland responded to a funding opportunity from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the Biofuels Infrastructure Program to form a two-state, Mid-Atlantic Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) to install biofuel fueling pumps at 40 fueling stations. The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) administered the Program with assistance of Virginia Clean Cities. Program partners included experienced retail partners, Protec Fuels and Sheetz, Inc.; U.S. Department of Energy-designated Clean Cities Coalitions from Virginia and Maryland; state agriculture and energy offices, grain associations, and other agricultural entities; along with private sector marketing and infrastructure concerns.
Al Christopher of DMME served as the principal investigator, with staff support from Robin Jones and Barbara Simcoe; and Alleyn Harned and Chris Mueller of Virginia Clean Cities, managers of day-to-day project activities on behalf of the Commonwealth. Jill Hamilton of Sustainable Strategies, Incorporated, (SESI), led the marketing components of the project, primarily in Maryland.
This Program worked to transform the market, strategically placing ethanol fueling in sites expecting market growth, access, and increased use, and which would justify private sector investment.
While 53 sites were identified in the proposal, 40 sites were ultimately completed, many with a larger number of pumps installed per site. [See the location map, below, and the detailed project station chart at the end of this report].
Monthly biofuels sales at project close were 450,000 gallons of E85 and 525,000 gallons of E15, representing nearly 12 million gallons a year from the project sites. This is a win for Virginia and Maryland farmers, as it results from nearly 2 million bushels of corn. The E85 emissions reductions were 12,000 tons of carbon dioxide, with per-gallon emissions improvements expected to triple over the next decade, as compared to gasoline. Program results will continue to be collected through 2022, as to fuel use and other metrics.
The BIP Program began in 2015 with agreements between DMME, USDA, and other partners. Marketing partners began their outreach, while fueling partners worked to identify stations and prepare environmental documentation for each site. Once environmental documents were reviewed and approved by the USDA Farm Services Administration, station construction began.
As stations were completed and became operational, these were visually audited and eligible to request reimbursement of grant funds. Federal grant funds supported the costs of dispensers and tanks. Non-Federal match funds were used for dispensers, tanks, other installation costs, administration, and marketing. A number of MD project sites also received financial support via the Maryland Energy Administration’s Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Program (AFIP). Marketing efforts produced considerable additional consumer awareness of the fuel, including a postcard mailing to MD flex-fuel vehicle drivers that was financially supported by the Maryland Energy Administration.
The total BIP project cost was $8,942,994.92. The Federal portion, $4,716,501.46 in USDA funds, was spent towards the construction of 188 ethanol dispensers at 40 fueling stations. A cost match of $4,226,493.46 was contributed by project partners. [Additional stations that were advanced through BIP partnerships beyond this project are not included in these figures.]
There remain many opportunities for continued advancement of biofuels use. Biofuels are available at a number of stations but still need to be extended to more than 450 stations in Virginia in order to reach 10% market availability in the Commonwealth. To this end, additional stations must be built and expanded consumer awareness is necessary to further the use of this clean domestic fuel.
There is the wide potential for additional fuel sales beyond this project, as Holtzman and Sheetz are advancing some stations with private investments, and stations in Maryland are being built, supported by that state’s infrastructure funding programs.
The project concluded with a Station opening event in Maryland on April 23, 2019 at the National Harbor.
Virginia Clean Cities expresses sincere appreciation to the dozens of incredible partners in Virginia and Maryland on this project. Individuals and organizations worked tirelessly over the entire project period and will continue to work together to move this fuel forward.
Read the full BIP project report here.
Read more renewable fuel stories here.