USDA RELEASES RULES FOR $100 MILLION GRANT PROGRAM
USDA released the application guidelines for their recently announced ethanol infrastructure program. Illinois is well suited to win a portion of the grant funds as we have a number of programs in place that already support ethanol fueling infrastructure improvements. The Illinois Corn Marketing Board at their last meeting identified programs that would standardize gas pumps to be compatible through E25, paving the way for fuels that come on the market in the near term, as a top priority for this grant program. IL Corn will be working with others in the industry and the State of Illinois to submit an application by the July 15, 2015 deadline.
The so-called Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) will support the infrastructure needed to make higher ethanol blend options available to consumers. Specifically, USDA will administer competitive grants to match funding for state-led efforts to market higher blends of renewable fuel, such as E15 and E85. States that are able to provide greater than a one-to-one ratio in funding will receive higher consideration. USDA will use funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC).
According to the rules, “BIP grantees must provide matching contributions with a goal of a one-to-one basis to the CCC funds. The CCC funds must be used to pay a portion of the costs related to the installation of fuel pumps and related infrastructure dedicated to the distribution of higher ethanol blends, for example “E15” and “E85,” at vehicle fueling locations, including, but not limited to, local fueling stations, convenience stores (CS), hypermarket fueling stations (HFS), or fleet facilities. The matching contributions may be used for these items or for additional related BIP costs such as additional infrastructure to support pumps, marketing, education, data collection, program evaluation, and administrative costs associated with the application process.
“We’re appreciative of Secretary Vilsack’s efforts to support rural economies and consumer choice,” said Ken Hartman, Jr., Illinois Corn Growers Association President and farmer from Waterloo. “Illinois corn farmers are committed to expanded consumer choice at the pump by expanding market access to higher blends. We look forward to matching these USDA dollars with existing and planned program funds here in Illinois.”
Illinois corn farmers have long partnered with the State of Illinois and the American Lung Association (ALA) in Illinois to offer incentive programs that add to fuel choice at the pump. Those programs are even timelier when one considers that efforts underway in Chicago and Springfield to bring the clean air benefits of higher ethanol blends to consumers.