FROST, Minn., Aug 19, 2011 -- USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer joined officials from the American Lung Association in Minnesota and the Minnesota Corn Growers Association to cut the ribbon on a new flex fuel pump at Viking Petroleum in Frost, Minn. today.
Following the ribbon cutting, flex fuel vehicle owners were able to fill up their tanks with E85 at a discounted rate of 85 cents off per gallon until 1 p.m. The station also offered B5 biodiesel at a 20 cents per gallon discount.
The discounted fill-up promotion was sponsored by the Faribault County Corn and Soybean Growers, Minnesota Corn Growers Association, the USDA and Minnesota Clean Air Choice Team. Viking Petroleum is located at 315 Elevator Road in Frost, Minn.
USDA Rural Development helped finance the purchase and installation of a new E85 fuel pump and holding tank at Viking Petroleum with a $10,990 grant through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The REAP program was created in the 2002 Farm Bill and finances the purchase and installation of renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements on farms and rural businesses. In addition, the site received a grant from the Department of Commerce and additional financing from Frost State Bank.
The REAP program recently expanded to include funding for the installation of flex fuel pumps to provide Americans with flex fuel vehicles more choices when they fill up. Viking Petroleum is one of three Minnesota stations to receive funding for a flex fuel pump.
“We’re giving Americans a choice to purchase domestically produced renewable fuels in rural communities like Frost,” Landkamer said. “The REAP program helps build a clean energy economy while creating rural jobs and making our nation more energy-secure in the long term.”
There are more than eight million flex-fuel vehicles that run on a mixture of gasoline and up to 85 percent ethanol. There are over 110,000 gas stations in the United States, but only 2,300 are equipped with a flex fuel pump. There are more than 360 flex fuel stations in Minnesota.
“Minnesota has shown 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 also shown that if you offer drivers a choice at the pump, they will choose more renewable home grown fuels.”
"We're proud of the role we've played in making Minnesota a leader in renewable energy," said Greg Schwarz, a corn farmer from LeSueur County and president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. "Not only is corn ethanol a cleaner-burning, home-grown alternative to foreign oil, but it's a proven asset to rural economies around the country as well."
USDA Rural Development has invested over $70 million to help Minnesota farmers and rural small businesses owners install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements through the REAP program. In addition to flex fuel pumps, eligible REAP projects include small wind turbines, geo-thermal systems, solar panels, grain dryers, heating and cooling systems, refrigeration, lighting and building improvements.
To learn more about the REAP program in Minnesota, visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/mn/RBS/Section%209006%20Renewable%20Energy%20Program.htm.