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Craig McEwen, Published October 24 2009

Hoeven touts blender pump grant for state

A $2 million state grant program launched Friday will help North Dakota fuel station operators install new-age, multifuel blender pumps and potentially expand traditional and renewable fuel sales statewide.

The blender pump will allow consumers to select a variety of fuels, ranging from pure gasoline to E10 and E85 ethanol and any blend in between, from one service pump.

“We’re excited about this initiative because it’s a win for consumers, farmers, retailers and ethanol producers,” said Gov. John Hoeven, during a Friday news conference announcing the state Department of Commerce Biofuels Blender Pump incentive program.

Service station operators, through a mix of grants and incentives, will be able to purchase and install the $25,000 blender pumps for less than $2,500, said Kent Satrang, CEO of Petro Serve USA.

North Dakota will provide grants up to $5,000 per blender pump and $40,000 per retail service station.

The North Dakota Corn Growers Association and Corn Utilization Council have allocated $500,000 to provide $2,500 per pump.

The remaining incentives include federal tax credits and ethanol industry incentives.

“The idea here was to partner the abundant corn fields of rural North Dakota with the massive Bakken oil fields of western North Dakota,” Satrang said.

One goal is to raise ethanol volumes by replacing old gas pumps with innovative biotech blender pumps, he said.

Developing new infrastructure will allow more North Dakota-produced ethanol to stay in the state, said Randy Schneider, president of the North Dakota Ethanol Producers Association.

“We spend anywhere from 15 to 25 cents per gallon to transport our ethanol out of the state,” he said. “If we can grow the internal consumption of ethanol in the state, it means a significant cost savings to the ethanol plants that we have here in North Dakota.”

The blender pump initiative, started two years ago, involved the Legislature, corn and soybean farmers, petroleum and renewable fuel industry representatives and service station owners, Satrang said.

“Very seldom do you get a time where a whole group of people can say they win,” said Bob Runck Jr., executive committee member of the North Dakota Soybean Association.

“In this case you have consumers that are winning, you have the renewable fuel industry winning, you have the corn and soybean growers within the state winning and you have the smaller mom and pop retailers that, with these incentive packages, can afford to get these pumps in place.”

The program runs through Nov. 30, 2010. Grant requests must be submitted by Oct. 31, 2010.

Grant applications

Online: www.blenderpumps.nd.gov

By phone: (701) 328-5300

Readers can reach Forum Business Editor Craig McEwen at (701) 241-5502