Daugaard makes stop in Yankton to promote ethanol grant program

YANKTON — South Dakota motorists will find a new blended ethanol option at nearly 100 service stations across the state due to a $1 million grant program, announced Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard at the Double "T" Truck Stop north of Yankton on Wednesday.

Ethanol blender pumps, which take regular unleaded gas and blend it with a certain percentage of ethanol, are now available and finally affordable to service stations, due to the grant allocated through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The grant program will push South Dakota to the national leader in service stations with ethanol blender pumps, Daugaard said. As of June 1, the state had 42 blender pump locations, just behind Minnesota with 49.

But the $1 million grant will bump South Dakota to the No. 1 spot when 49 more blender pumps are installed at fuel stations across the state. According to a press release from the governor's office, one of the 42 stations that currently has a blender pump will be replacing it with a new model, so it cannot be counted among the 49 additional stations.

"The blender pumps offer South Dakota an opportunity to use more of our own ethanol," Daugaard said.

Other benefits of installing blender pumps include reducing dependence on foreign oil, increasing local business and offering a cleaner option, he added.

Daugaard also extended his congratulations to all service stations in South Dakota that will install blender pumps this year.

Yankton's Double "T" Truck Stop is one of five area service stations accepting grant funds for the new ethanol blender pumps. For owner Terry Stucky, the available grant funds justified his decision to purchase ethanol blender pumps.

"I had a pump that needed to be replaced," Stucky said, "and I had to do some upgrading because some of the equipment here was obsolete."

With the help of $10,000 in grant funds, the hefty price of new ethanol blender pumps didn't seem as daunting. The price of ethanol-blended gas is significantly cheaper than regular gasoline, Stucky said.

"In this economy, people are looking for a bargain," he added.

Customers should be aware that unless they are driving a fuel-flex vehicle, they cannot take advantage of all the ethanol blends, said Rick Serie, an executive at Poet LLC in Sioux Falls.

While flex-fuel vehicles have been manufactured since the 1980s, drivers may own one and not even know it. To find out, check the identification sticker on the car's fuel filler door or consult the owner's manual.

Some people who own flex-fuel vehicles may not even consider trying ethanol-blended fuel because they think it is hard on their vehicle's parts.

"We'd like to encourage consumers to do a little trial on (the ethanol-blended pumps) and test it out for themselves," Serie said.

The decision to purchase ethanol blender pumps is also good for local South Dakota farmers and businesses.

"The more ethanol we burn, the more corn is used up," Stucky said. "It's a good deal."

The new pumps have generated a lot of interest by customers, and because of the positive response, Stucky plans to add more blender pumps at his service station by the end of 2011.

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