Ethanol is a booming industry industry in Iowa, and it's brought a significant amount of renewably-sourced fuel into the market in a short amount of time, but the infrastructure that contains that fuel hasn't quite caught up yet.
In fact, the fuel tanks under many Iowa gas stations are reaching maximum age limits.
To fix that, the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores of Iowa (PMCI), a trade group representing over 2,000 Iowa businesses, will request that the legislature extend the current penny-per-gallon fuel surcharge that funds underground tank maintenance, and is set to expire in mid-2016.
President Dawn Carlson says PMCI is also looking for development of a new cost-share program to offset the cost of upgrading infrastructure, which typically costs retailers more than $250,000 .
Carlson says another problem with current storage is current tanks can't handle higher ethanol blends, "We're looking at the future of what fuels we'll be offering in the state of Iowa. And as we look at higher blends of ethanol, and looking at our current situation with our tanks, they're not all compatible with E-15, or higher blends. In fact, most of the tanks in the state of Iowa, are only UL certified up to 10 percent ethanol. So, as we examine the aging infrastructure, most of the tanks in Iowa are 20 to 25 years old."
Carlson says some tanks are up to 30 years old, max life expectancy for a tank is around 20 to 25 years.
"Because all of the tanks in Iowa are reaching their life expectancy and as we look to protecting the environment and groundwater, we believe most retailers will in fact apply for cost-share grants to upgrade their tanks and and equipment so they can offer higher blends of ethanol." She says,
"We're kind of calling this the 'green tanks' program. Because we foresee that every retailer out there would want to replace their tank with an E-100 compatible underground storage tank."