At the 8th annual Indiana Ethanol Forum which was held Thursday in Indianapolis, a new approach to promoting ethanol fuel was discussed. Keynote speaker for the event was Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, who called for a new industry approach to marketing ethanol blended fuel to consumers, “When we are talking to consumers about why they should be reaching for higher blends of ethanol, let’s tell them what it does for their cars: higher octane, it burns cleaner and cooler, and it will save them some money at the gas pump.” A 21st century fuel for a 21st century consumer is the kind of approach she advocated. She said the target needs to be millennials, environmentalists, and Moms.
Skor told HAT the industry needs to go beyond our Corn Belt focus and use a message that works in all 22 states that now sell ethanol, “If I am talking to someone outside of agriculture or outside of the Midwest, then I need to talk about what this fuel means to them.” She added that focusing on how ethanol is good for the farm economy or the number of jobs it creates in rural areas is not something about which consumers in east coast or west coast urban areas care. The message needs to be simple and personal, she concluded.
Skor sees E-15 as the path forward for ethanol, yet, in many locations, including much of Indiana, you cannot sell E-15 all year long. Skor says the industry must get this changed either by regulation or legislation, “We have strong support on Congress for this, and a new head of the EPA who is supportive. So one way or the other we need to get this fixed.” Matt Nichols, with the fuel retailor Thornton’s, told the forum they will not put E-15 into a station unless they can sell it all year.
Jane Ade Stevens, Executive Director of the Indiana Corn Growers Association, called for a strong political push with Indiana lawmakers. “We cannot tolerate this sitting on the fence about ethanol,” she said, and advocated for a report card that clearly documented who supports ethanol. ISDA Director Ted McKinney said Indiana would be sending a letter of support for ethanol to the EPA as they consider revising regulations.
Currently, there are only 18 pumps selling E-15 in Indiana. However, it was announced at the forum that, thanks to the Hoosier Homegrown Fuels program, a grant of $158,000 has been given to the Family Express chain to install 8 more E-15 locations in Indiana.