The installation this April of two blender fuel pumps at the Progo fuel and convenience store in Primghar have gone over "very well" with "lots of interest" in the various ethanol fuel options.
That's according to Dave Hicks, manager of Producers Co-op, which owns Progo.
The pumps installation met Producers Co-op's goal -- to give the public more options and to provide an alternative to fossil fuels, he said.
"The new pumps are allowing us to now offer customers straight no-lead, E-10 (10 percent ethanol blend), E-20, E-30 and E-85, and they're welcoming the opportunity to make fuel choices," Hicks said.
The additional pumps were made possible through a $27,996 Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant and added state grant funding, he added.
"One of the things I like to talk about as we consider our new fuel options is the local source of our fuels here at the Co-op," Hicks said. "We have members of our Co-op that grow corn for the Siouxland Energy Ethanol Plant in Sioux Center, which is where we buy our ethanol."
That means local farmers are able to watch the corn grow, be harvested and then processed, he said.
"The corn then comes back to us in the form of fuel, and we can do this over and over and over," Hicks said. "Everyone knows about all the turmoil in the Middle East. If we can grow our own fuel and refine it right here, it makes sense to me, even more so if we see it as helping to stop importing Middle East oil."
Hicks said he sees the added fuels availability as good for the local economy in O'Brien County.
"The corn producer is adding value to his crops," he said. "People are employed at the ethanol plant and our stores. There's great value in the fuel products in that they put a little more cash in the product for everyone from the farmer to the public, and this extra money is spent here in the county."
Hicks added that had it not been for the REAP grant, along with some state dollars, the installations at Progo would not have been able to move forward.
"We're grateful for our success in receiving this funding that has made the added pumps possible," he said.
Hicks noted Kim Clay, business specialist at USDA Rural Development, Le Mars, assisted in securing the REAP portion of the funding.
Clay, commending the Producers Co-op for pursing the blenders grant, said the new pumps are a good addition.
"It is encouraging to see northwest Iowa fuel its vehicles with a product that is locally grown," she said. "We are hopeful that more entities apply for grants and loans for blender fuel pumps in the future."