E15 fuel’s value might still up for debate

Drivers will soon get to debate whether the cost-savings of E15 fuel is worth the lower fuel economy.

E15, which contains 15 percent ethanol, received final approval by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this summer, and a Kansas gasoline station became the first station in the nation to sell the alternative fuel.

The station began selling the fuel for $1.15 a gallon, but they quickly upped the price to $3.28, or two cents lower than regular E10. At those prices, Douglas Tiffany, a University of Minnesota assistant professor, said it’s a bit overpriced for its energy production.

“At the moment, I would say that the E15 is maybe a little higher priced than it ought to be,” Tiffany told Midwest Energy News.

Regular gasoline has around 114,000 BTUs, compared to the 108,000 BTUs of E15. So according to Tiffany, drivers would pay about 22 cents per mile on regular gasoline, but they’d pay about 23.5 cents per mile on E15.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, motorists are expected to get 3 to 4 percent fewer miles per gallon on E10 than straight gasoline, and it seems only logical to think E15 would also come with a similar hit to fuel economy.

So E15 might save you a few cents at the pump, but you could end up paying more per mile.

Supporters have argued the fuel has given Americans relief by knocking $134 billion off the price of gasoline, and they argue the ethanol-gasoline mix will get cheaper as corn prices decline.

The fuel has also faced criticism for potential damage it might cause to car engines. A report earlier this summer found engine damage during an E15 test, but supporters of the fuel said the test was misleading and used questionable testing protocols.

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