The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced more details surrounding the application process for its higher blends Infrastructure Incentive Programme (HBIIP) that makes available $100 million (€91 million) in competitive grants.
The grants are for activities designed to expand the sale and use of renewable fuels, $86 million (€78 million) of which is reserved for higher blends of ethanol.
The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) senior vice president and market development director Ron Lamberty provided suggestions to USDA during the initial HBIIP stakeholder meeting and has been in close consultation with the USDA.
Lamberty said: “ACE is gratified to see many policies we recommended to USDA to make the programme more accessible to single store and small chain operators were included in the final programmme.
“In particular, we appreciate the Targeted Assistance Goal (TAG) which makes approximately 40% of funds available specifically for applicants owning 10 fueling stations or fewer.
“USDA is also offering applicants ‘consideration for geographical diversity and markets underserved by higher blends’ to help establish higher blend retail facilities in a broader geographic area, which ACE identified as critical to widespread E15 use in our recommendations to USDA.
“A very high percentage of existing stations could add E15 using mostly existing equipment, and USDA is structuring these grants so all fuel retailers — including single store and small chain owners — can receive assistance whether they need to perform simple conversions, upgrades or new infrastructure.
“Widespread E15 use is going to rely on conversions more than new construction, and ACE will focus on helping stations determine compatibility so they can add higher ethanol blends as quickly as they are able.
“Retailers may also need assistance with the application process, which USDA has assured us has been simplified as much as possible for a federal grant program. ACE will be helping retailers navigate the grant process by providing expertise, and when needed, financial assistance to give stations the best chance of receiving grant funding.”
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