CHICAGO – Reiterating his commitment to the Illinois agricultural industry and building on his efforts to improve our state and nation’s energy independence, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today celebrated the continued growth of E-85 – an advanced hybrid of ethanol – with the opening of additional fuel pumps in Central Illinois. Qik-n-EZ in Lincoln at 520 Keokuk is one of the most recent stations to offer E-85, and now 23 stations in the state offer the environmentally friendly alternative fuel. A grand opening of the Qik-n-EZ Station in Lincoln is being held today from 10:00am till 2:00pm and is sponsored by Qik-n-EZ, American Lung Association of Illinois & Iowa, the Illinois Corn Growers Association and the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO). In recent weeks, consumers have seen the price of E-85 drop almost as quickly as traditional gas prices have risen; E-85 is often fifty to sixty cents cheaper than regular unleaded gasoline.
“Ethanol has the potential to revolutionize the oil industry as we know it today and reduce our reliance on oil from overseas. As we continue to see the ethanol industry grow in Illinois with fuels likeE-85, we’re supporting homegrown energy that supports our farmers and our economy,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “Businesses and consumers continue to see the potential of E-85, and it’s exciting to see more and more stations offering and more and more customers requesting this environmentally friendly fuel in Central Illinois and throughout the state.”
In early March, Gov. Blagojevich announced $500,000 in Opportunity Returns
funding to establish new E-85 facilities at retail gasoline outlets in Illinois. E-85 is a more environmentally friendly blend of 70 to 85 percent ethanol that can be used in Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) designed to burn E-85, unleaded gasoline, or any combination of the two fuels. There are currently more than four million FFVs on the road today nationwide, with approximately 100,000 of those in Illinois. Widely available models include the 5.3 liter Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Pickup trucks, 3.0 liter Ford Taurus sedans and 4.0 liter Explorers, as well as 3.3 liter Chrysler Caravan Minivans. A complete list of models is available at www.e85fuel.com.
“We’re expecting rapid growth of E-85 in Illinois because consumer demand is rising so quickly, and it is Gov. Blagojevich’s support and leadership that is leading to this growth,” said DCEO Director Jack Lavin. “Since Gov. Blagojevich took office, he has provided $80 million to supporting research, production and consumption of ethanol in Illinois, and there is no better way to reducing our reliance on foreign oil and supporting agriculture in our state.”
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s E-85 program provides up to 50 percent of the total cost for converting an existing facility (maximum grant of $2,000 per site) to E-85 operation, or for the construction of a new refueling facility (maximum grant of up to $40,000 per facility). Individuals or companies operating retail gasoline facilities are strongly encouraged to apply. A full list of E-85 retailers across Illinois is available at www.illinoisenergy.org
or at www.illinoisgreenfleets.org.
Gas stations selling E-85 in Central Illinois include:
Qik-n-EZ 520 Keokuk Lincoln
Qik-n-EZ 615 N. Cedar Shelbyville
Qik-n-EZ 1607 Morrissey Bloomington
Qik-n-EZ 2700 Peoria Rd. Springfield
Fuel 24 1016 West Chestnut, Rt. 10 Mason City
Fuel 24 1200 N. Cheney Street Taylorville
Wolff Oil 1511 Old Rt. 66 N. Litchfield
Increasing ethanol research and production is a significant component of Gov. Blagojevich’s comprehensive energy plan for Illinois, and the Governor has taken several important steps to move the ethanol industry forward:
· Supporting the national “Fuels Security Act of 2005” that will more than double the amount of ethanol used nationwide. Under the federal legislation, ethanol use in the United States would rise from 3.7 billion gallons today to 8 billion gallons by 2012;
· Announcing $1 million in Opportunity Returns funding for the National Corn to Ethanol Research Center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville to support the center’s role in technological innovation to continue to reduce the costs of ethanol production;
· Providing $4.8 million to the Lincolnland Agri-Energy Ethanol plant in Robinson, to help the plant succeed in closing on private financing for the project - the plant is now producing more than 40 million gallons of ethanol per year;
· Signing an Executive Order requiring increased use of both ethanol and biodiesel by state employees, similar to the measure included in the federal proposal;
· Lobbying for and signing legislation to eliminate the state sales tax on E-85, allowing the fuel to retail for at least 10 to 15 cents per gallon cheaper than regular unleaded gasoline, within months of being sworn into office.
Gov. Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns regional economic development strategy is the most aggressive, comprehensive approach to creating jobs in Illinois’ history. Since a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development just doesn’t work, the Governor has divided the state into 10 regions – each with a regional team that is empowered and expected to rapidly respond to opportunities and challenges. Opportunity Returns is about tangible, specific actions to make each region more accessible, more marketable, more entrepreneurial and more attractive to businesses. It is about upgrading the skills of the local workforce, increasing the access to capital, opening new markets, improving infrastructure, and creating and retaining jobs. Opportunity Returns is about successfully partnering with companies and communities, both large and small, to help all of Illinois reach its economic potential.