To “flex” or not, that is a good question. I own a flexible fuel vehicle and have for several years and as a Government Agency, Rural Development has government owned vehicles that accommodate flexible fuel. As State Director, I travel throughout Missouri and even though I have the appropriate vehicle and even though there is an adequate supply of renewable fuels, there is an inadequate number of service stations that have flexible fuel pumps. Compound this with the desire to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make our nation more environmentally clean, you can imagine my reaction when Rural Development announced a program as part of the solution to address these issues.
There was excitement in Jefferson City, Missouri’s State Capitol, when Judith Canales, Administrator for USDA Rural Development Rural Business-Cooperative Programs kicked off Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) workshop on flex-fuel options. Canales informed the 45 people in attendance that grants are available to provide fuel station owners with incentives to install flexible fuel pumps that will offer Americans more renewable energy options.
The event was hosted by the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and their Secretary/Treasurer, John Eggleston, (also a 30-year pioneer of the ethanol industry in Missouri). He emphasized the importance of ethanol as a renewable energy source in reducing America’s dependency on foreign oil.
Matt Moore, Director Business Programs for Missouri Rural Development (RD), illustrated that the REAP incentives offer options for financing the conversion of fuel stations pumps or installation of new flex fuel pumps resulting in a choice for Missourians when purchasing fuel in the future.
The REAP incentives can be coupled with $5,000 incentives offered from both Growth Energy and the Missouri Corn Growers Association according to Bradley Schad, Director of Ethanol Blends with the Missouri Corn Growers Association.
Other stakeholders in attendance that provided comments in support of the renewable energy programs included: Loyd Wilson, Division Director for Missouri Department of Agriculture; J.P. Dunn, Missouri Soybean Association; Tom May, Marketing Director for MFA Oil Company; retailers, flex fuel pump distributors and others. As a highlight, the Missouri Corn Growers brought to the meeting a flex fuel pump for all the attendees and media to see.
During the Question and Answer session of the meeting, it was pointed out that a small convenience store chain was exploring the possibility of putting new fuel dispensers in at several of their locations.
Canales summed up the day by saying, “I want to make certain that everyone is aware of the variety of assistance USDA Rural Development provides to help businesses create jobs and become energy more efficient. This assistance builds on the Obama Administration’s commitment to ‘Win the Future’ by ensuring the Nation develops innovative ways to meet our future energy needs.”