The line of cars stretched out of the parking lot and onto the street at the Glencoe Co-op Association on a recent warm afternoon in August. With financing from the USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), the co-op recently installed the first flex fuel pump in McLeod County, and several flex fuel vehicle owners in the area wanted to be among the first to fill up.
“We’re glad to help stimulate the economy and support clean air and agriculture. That’s what the co-op is all about,” said Dale Heglund, Co-op Director.
USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer joined officials from the American Lung Association of Minnesota, the Minnesota Clean Air Choice Team, the Corn Growers Association of Minnesota and the McLeod County Corn and Soybean Growers to cut the ribbon on the new pump that dispenses E15, E20, E30, E50 and E85. After the ribbon-cutting, flex fuel vehicle owners were able to fill up at a discounted rate.
“We’re giving Americans a choice to purchase domestically produced renewable fuels in rural communities,” Landkamer said. “By investing in renewable fuels and clean sources of energy, we’re also boosting the rural economy and creating jobs.”
The REAP program recently financed the purchase and installation of three flex fuel pumps in Minnesota. In addition to the Glencoe Co-op, other recipients included Viking Petroleum in Frost and Severson Oil in Rochester.
There are more than 360 flex fuel stations in Minnesota and with the help of some key partners, USDA is working to increase that number.
“Minnesota has shows that it is possible to build a statewide retail infrastructure for cleaner burning fuels like E85,” said Kelly Marczak, director of the Clean Air Choice Program for the American Lung Association in Minnesota. “Our experience has shown that if you offer drivers a choice at the pump, they will choose more renewable home grown fuels.”
The REAP Program recently expanded to include funding for the installation of flex fuel pumps. Other renewable energy and energy efficiency improvement projects financed by REAP include wind turbines, grain dryers, solar panels, geothermal systems, refrigeration, lighting and insulation.
Minnesota farmers and small businesses have received over $42 million through the REAP program since 2009. To learn more about the REAP program in Minnesota, click here.