MARCUS - A larg crowd gathered for free hot dogs and fellowship at the Marcus Junction fuel station Open House in Marcus on Friday, June 29.
At the center of the celebration was a new colorful blender pump standing outside the store.
For Carl Nelson, president of the Marcus Junction Board, and fellow stockholders the night was the culmination of what he calls "a vision" dating back to 2006.
The pump offers several renewable fuel options: E85, E50, E30 and E15, which is now flex-fuel vehicles only. Federal approval has been given for use of E15 in all vehicles 2001 and newer as of this fall.
Marcus Junction has a better range of options to offer customers, which has been made possible through the help of a number of different groups, he said.
"Our vision is becoming a reality," Nelson said
A $7,500 Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant received through the help of the Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council (SIMPCO) and the city of Marcus provided the cornerstone for the purchase of the $30,000 blender pump.
Additional dollars for the project included $15,000 from the neighboring Little Sioux Corn Processors and an additional $5,000 from DeKalb Corn.
Marcus Junction would add another $2,500.
"We're appreciative of everyone who worked with us," Nelson said.
He credited the foresight of the board for plumbing in the lines necessary for future fuel blending at the time of construction, cutting down considerably higher future project costs.
Nelson is quick to point to those he considers "local partners" in the success of the station.
"The Little Sioux operation has continued to be successful and has been a good employer within the community. It's a good boost, too, to see our corn producers' corn going into the plant," Nelson said. "Everyone works well together."
He said he's hopeful the local processing plant will have its own fuel blending license, enabling Marcus Junction to purchase fuel supplies locally rather than from outside the area.
Nelson is optimistic on continual increases in sales of E85 now that the blender pump installed.
"We've had a remarkable upswing in E85 sales since day one," he said. "I'd say they've probably doubled daily, and I think sales will only continue getting better. This is where the blends will really come into play and give consumers even more fuel options."
Monte Shaw, executive director of Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), said Monday in a media release that Iowa fuel retailers need the independence to allow sales of fuels such as E15.
However, this is now limited by what he called "a quirk in federal fuel regulations" which say from June 1--Sept. 15 a different gasoline blendstock is needed to blend E15 compared to that used for E10, which is not available at this time in Iowa despite federal approval for the sales.