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Lamberty Report: What Happens in Vegas
by Ron Lamberty

For the last ten years, the American Coalition for Ethanol has traveled to Las Vegas to participate in petroleum marketer conventions. The Western Petroleum Marketers holds its annual tradeshow there, and every three years the NACS Show – the largest petroleum marketer trade show in the world – is held in Las Vegas in the fall. The National Association of Convenience Stores, American Petroleum Institute, Petroleum Equipment Institute, and Petroleum Marketers Association of America combine to host this event that showcases well over a thousand exhibitors and gathers tens of thousands of attendees.

These trade shows give the ethanol industry a chance to win support, and this year ACE and the Renewable Fuels Association have teamed up for what we hope will be the start of a big winning streak for ethanol retailing. Vegas gave us the opportunity to dispel myths retailers have about ethanol, as well as misinformation about the ACE/RFA “Blend Your Own Ethanol” program. Many marketers we met with at NACS were under the impression that our efforts were designed to convince marketers to install pumps primarily to sell E30 for use in standard cars. The media coverage following the rollout of ACE’s “optimal blend study” focused on the study’s results with E30, and that image is stuck in many marketers’ minds.

We explained that “BYOethanol” is an educational program to teach petroleum marketers how to take advantage of federal, state, and private programs to economically give more fuel choices to their customers. In the past, the E85 infrastructure program meant throwing money at select retailers and begging them to install pumps, which created a sort of entitlement mentality. They were not inclined to put E85 in their stations unless someone else paid for the equipment.

Ironically, the largest increase in numbers of E85 pumps came with no investment, when the fuel was so much cheaper than gasoline that it inspired some to simply replace premium with E85. E10 didn’t go nationwide by paying for gas pumps – it got there through smart public policy and educating marketers about how those laws and incentives created opportunity for them. Those same elements are in place for E85 and higher blends today, and when we meet with station owners and explain how selling E85 and other flex fuel blends can help them pay for the equipment that will sell all of their fuel offerings, they “get it” and they will get the blender pumps.

So to borrow the Vegas vernacular, we’re “all in.” The NACS Show has the BYOethanol campaign on a hot streak, and this time it’s important that what happened in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas.

 
© American Coalition for Ethanol, all rights reserved.
The American Coalition for Ethanol publishes Ethanol Today magazine each month to cover the biofuels industryís hot topics, including cellulosic ethanol, E85, corn ethanol, food versus fuel, ethanolís carbon footprint, E10, E15, and mid-range ethanol blends.
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