Retailer Columns

Selling E15. What are you waiting for?

Come on, man. Of almost 8 billion people on the planet, almost all 8 billion couldn’t care less about selling E15 and will never come to this site or read this article. But here you are. Heck, you might even be here again… looking at E15 like a little kid looks at puppy in the pet shop window. You think E15 could be a good opportunity for your c-store or gas station, but for whatever reason, you can’t pull the trigger.  Why not?

Scared you might get bitten by the cost of adding E15? …or what you think the cost could be? Are you worried you won’t be allowed to sell it? Not sure your equipment can handle E15? Don’t know if anyone will buy it? And the liability. We’ve all heard about the liability. The good news is you’re supposed to be scared. Oil companies spent a lot of time and money to frighten you out of even considering E15. The better news is that none of the stuff they said would happen has happened in the 10 years E15 has been sold, so you can quit being such a fraidy-cat.

Step one: Put your pump and equipment installer to work. Tell them you want to sell E15 using your existing tanks and lines, and if possible, your existing dispensers. Step 1A is while you’re waiting for the bid, go to and use the Flex Check Tool to check the compatibility of as much of your own stuff as possible. That way you’ll know if your Pump and Tank guy is being honest with you when the bid comes back.

If you do need new equipment, or you really want to update your stuff, keep in mind USDA will announce (I swear, they said it would be late spring/early summer) another $100 million dollars in infrastructure grants for ethanol blends above 10 percent. Last time USDA did a cost share of 50 percent on qualifying aboveground equipment, and 25 percent on the cost of tanks. The application process can be a bear, but there are many people available to help you get your hands on some of that dough. If you go to and enter your email, we’ll get the grant details to you right after USDA announces them.

And it’s possible – probable, really – you already have most of the equipment required to store and dispense E15. Contrary to the spook stories you’ve heard over and over, a large percentage of underground storage tanks and lines are compatible with blends of ethanol higher than 10 percent. In general, underground tanks listed for “gas and alcohol blends” define those blends as any combination of gas and/or ethanol, up to 100 percent of each. The 15 percent ethanol in E15 is way less than 100 percent and barely more than 10 percent - even if the fearmongers want to harp on E15 having 50 percent more ethanol than E10. They’re not wrong, but we can do math, too. Almost all tanks are built and warrantied to handle 900 percent more ethanol than E10. That makes E15 18 times safer than the highest blend approved for storage in most tanks.

If you still can’t decide, ask another retailer who is already selling E15 and/or flex fuels. You can find some of their stories on, and we will be happy to put you in touch with other marketers who have already done some of the things you’re thinking about doing. They can tell you what was easy, what was challenging, what still causes problems, and what problems they expected but never had. E15 doesn’t bite and your Uncle Sam will pay for half. It’s time to bring that puppy home.

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