USDA Awards $8.8 Million in Grants to Expand Biodiesel Sales

Money Goes to 22 States for Storage, Distribution and Dispensing Projects
Biodiesel truck
The grants, announced Jan. 11, were from the USDA’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. (Iowa Biodiesel Board via Flickr)

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Nearly half of $18.89 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture biofuel grants recently awarded to 22 states will be funneled to projects that increase biodiesel storage, distribution and dispensing.

“By increasing the supply of biofuels made here in the U.S., we are strengthening our energy independence, lowering costs for American families, creating new streams of income for agricultural producers and bringing good-paying jobs to people in rural communities,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

The grants, announced Jan. 11 by Vilsack, were from the USDA’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program and are aimed at expanding biofuel infrastructure for renewable fuels using ethanol blends such as E15 and E85 and biodiesel’s B20 blend. Diesel vehicles can operate using B20.

At $5 million, the highest grant will go to Bulk Petroleum Corp., which owns multiple fueling stations. The federal dollars will help pay to install 33 B20 dispensers and 22 biodiesel storage tanks at 24 fueling stations in Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan and Wisconsin. The entire project — which also includes installing 80 ethanol dispensers and 31 ethanol storage tanks — is expected to increase the amount of biofuels that Bulk Petroleum sells by 7.84 million gallons yearly.

Biodiesel awards totaling $8.82 million will go toward four projects.

The next-largest grant will help increase California’s biodiesel output. Fontana-based Tristar FLC Inc. won a $3.5 million grant to create infrastructure to expand renewable fuel use and sales. A fuel distribution facility company founded in 2004, Tristar FLC wants to raise biodiesel sales by 24 million gallons per year.

It plans to build a high-efficiency transload facility to receive, store and distribute biodiesel. The company has two rail spurs, served by BNSF Railway, that can hold 90 railcars. Tristar FLC is equipped to handle containers, center beams, flatcars, boxcars and gondolas.

Piasa Enterprises Inc., a fuel supply and delivery company serving Illinois and the St. Louis metro area for over 90 years, was awarded a $200,000 grant to install a pair of 30,000-gallon insulated biodiesel storage tanks and associated piping at a site in Hartford, Ill., which is next to the Mississippi River. The funding will help Piasa increase biodiesel sales by 2 million gallons per year, the release said.


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The smallest grant at $122,521 went to a Topeka, Kan.-based fleet fueling company called Capital City Oil Inc. With the goal of expanding renewable fuel use and sales, Capital City Oil plans to install one B20 dispenser, two biodiesel storage tanks and ethanol fuel infrastructure at a Topeka fueling station. This project is expected to hike annual biofuel use by 5.28 million gallons.

All told, business owners to receive federal funds are located in: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin.

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Applauding the USDA grants, especially to help farmers in Illinois, were U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, both Illinois Democrats. Durbin is also a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Duckworth stated, “When we prioritize homegrown biofuels, we’re encouraging job growth, prioritizing our national security, reducing gas prices, protecting our environment and securing Illinois’ leadership in the energy sector for years to come.”

The senators said in a joint statement that increasing biofuel supplies nationally not only supports the agricultural sector, but also helps reduce fuel costs.