Sheetz expands ethanol availability to 77 stores

MIDDLETOWN — Pennsylvania’s travelers have now expanded opportunities for filling their vehicles with renewable fuels thanks to a federal grant the Wolf administration secured in 2015 from the United States Department of Agriculture.

The $7 million grant allowed the Sheetz Corp. to expand ethanol availability to 340 more fuel pumps at 77 store locations across the state.

Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding on Monday joined representatives from Sheetz, the USDA and the ethanol industry at one of the new locations showcasing the new infrastructure.

“Biofuels are an important component of the diverse energy portfolio that will power our country in the future,” Redding said in a statement. “Alternative fuels create new markets for agricultural products, which can lead to greater production and better prices for our farmers. So while the agriculture industry helps to grow the feedstock to produce biofuels, we also need to be sure the market exists for these alternative fuels. That requires making access more convenient for consumers. I thank Sheetz for partnering with us, and we thank the USDA for helping us put in place the pumps to meet consumers’ demands.”

The new infrastructure supports pumps that dispense grades of ethanol from E15. Most gasoline pumps typically deliver a fuel with a blend of up to 10 percent ethanol. Higher concentrations of ethanol require specialized pumps, storage and handling systems, which has limited the fuel’s widespread adoption in Pennsylvania.

“Since our founding in 1952, Sheetz has been built on maximizing convenience and choice for our customers,” said Mike Lorenz, executive vice president of petroleum and supply for Sheetz in a statement. “We are proud to partner with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and USDA to bring E15 to our customers.”

The $7 million grant is part of the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership program administered by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Staff with the Pennsylvania Depart-ment of Agriculture submitted the grant on behalf of Sheetz in 2015 and provided oversight of project implementation, including record keeping, performance reporting and compliance enforcement.

SDA has reimbursed 75 percent of project costs incurred by Sheetz. Sheetz has invested $3.2 million in the public-private partnership, for a total project investment of $10.2 million.