Minnesota Maintains Momentum: Alt-Fuel Choices Grew in 2016


In 2016, Minnesota continued to build on its growth in fuel choice, adding more biofuel stations and public charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) and expanding the use of natural gas and propane as vehicle fuels, according to the American Lung Association’s Clean Air Choice.

As reported, 35 new E85 stations opened throughout Minnesota this year – roughly twice the number of new stations that opened in 2015. Minnesota currently has 325+ E85 outlets – more than any other state – and flex fuel vehicle drivers on average used more than a million gallons of the cleaner-burning fuel every month.

Fuel stations offering E15 gasoline also increased this year.

For the third consecutive year, Minnesota increased the biodiesel content in most of the diesel fuel sold in 2016 to a 10% (B10) blend in the warm weather months and a 5% B5 blend in the winter.

The association notes that this past summer, Rochester Public Transit began running its 49 transit buses on a 20% biodiesel blend – a move that both reduced emissions and saved the city money.

Further, the number of EVs on Minnesota roads continued to grow in 2016, as did the number of public charging stations for plug-in vehicles. Twin Cities Clean Cities, an affiliate of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program locally coordinated by the American Lung Association in Minnesota, recently was awarded a $1 million, three-year grant to promote EVs in seven Midwestern states.

Twin Cities Clean Cities is also a sub-awardee of a $4.9 million, three-year Department of Energy grant to promote the use of alternative fuels on I-94 from Moorhead, Minn., to Port Huron, Mich.

In 2016, Osseo Area School students became the latest to ride to school on a bus powered by propane. In all, 20 propane-powered buses operated by First Student now serve the school district. St. Paul, St. Francis and Eastern Carver County schools are also using propane buses, notes Clean Air Choice.

The association adds that many Minnesota trash haulers and recyclers are now using compressed natural gas (CNG), which helps to reduce both emissions and noise. A new CNG station opened in Lakeville in 2016, bringing the state’s total to 16 public CNG stations. Newly manufactured CNG-powered buses frequently pass through the state on I-94, and it is now possible for CNG buses and trucks to refuel along the entire length of the highway in Minnesota.

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