Cleaner Vehicle Fuel Choices Grew In Minnesota In 2015
SAINT PAUL, MINN. – (December 30, 2015) -- Minnesota continued to build on its growth in fuel choice in 2015, adding more biofuel stations, public charging stations for electric vehicles, and expanding the use of natural gas and propane as vehicle fuels. With the price of traditional petroleum fuels so low, it is easy to forget that the need and demand for less-polluting fuels is still growing, as Minnesota looks toward more renewable energy sources.
In 2015, 15 new E85 stations opened throughout Minnesota, including stations in Rochester, Duluth, New Hope, Oakdale and St. Paul. Minnesota currently has 295 E85 outlets, more than any other state, and flex fuel vehicle drivers use more than a million gallons of the cleaner-burning fuel every month. Fuel stations offering E15 gasoline also increased dramatically this year and sales of the more renewable gasoline are growing quickly.
Ethanol was not the only biofuel success story in Minnesota in 2015. For the second year, Minnesota seamlessly increased the biodiesel content in most of the diesel fuel sold in the state to a 10 percent (B10) blend, during the winter months the blend is reduced to five percent. Virtually all diesel engines and vehicles can run on these biodiesel blends without any special modifications. Better yet, using the cleaner burning B10 blend is the air pollution equivalent of removing 128,000 vehicles from the road each year.
The number of electric vehicles on Minnesota roads grew in 2015, as did the number of public charging stations for plug-in vehicles. In 2015, the Twin Cities Clean Cities coalition worked with federal, state and local agencies to install electric vehicle charging stations at 11 locations within the Mississippi National River and Recreational Area, a 72-mile long, 54,000-acre national park along the Mississippi River that stretches from Dayton to Hastings. The electric vehicle charging facilities added as part of this project are part of 200+ public charging stations located across the state. The number of these stations are expected to grow as plug-in vehicles become more common.
Propane is another alternative vehicle fuel that grew in 2015. Independent School District 15 in St. Francis, Minn., transitioned its entire 41-vehicle bus fleet to cleaner-burning propane in 2015. The school district had initially tested 15 propane-fueled buses, and was so pleased with the results that it ordered more propane buses. Propane-fueled buses start immediately in cold weather and don’t require lengthy idling to warm the engine and heat the cabin. The buses are fueled by tanks located at the school’s bus maintenance facility.
Three new public compressed natural gas (CNG) stations opened in Minnesota in 2015 in Duluth, South Saint Paul and Fergus Falls. The variety of fleets using CNG in Minnesota in their trucks, vans and buses continues to expand. Many trash haulers and recyclers are now using CNG, which helps to reduce both emissions and noise. The City of St. Cloud uses CNG-powered buses, running routes close to the New Flyer factory where they were built.
As the New Year approaches, there are already signs that fuel choice will continue to grow in 2016. Retailers interested in adding biofuels choices to their pumps have until January 22, 2016 to apply for a grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. For more on the alternative fuel choices available in Minnesota, visit CleanAirChoice.org.