Green Fleet

Nebraska Putting State Money in Ethanol

July 02, 2008

LINCOLN, NE – Nebraska plans to buy dozens more flex-fuel vehicles that can run on fuel that is 85 percent ethanol.

The State also has no plans to tighten an open-ended policy for buying E-85 that can lead to higher fuel costs, according to www.forbes.com.

Nebraska is the second-largest ethanol producer in the country behind Iowa. The state policy is for employees to fill up their state-owned flex-fuel cars with E-85 “whenever practical.”

In recent weeks, E-85 has cost between 70 cents to 80 cents less per gallon than regular in Nebraska, according to www.E85Prices.com, a Web site that tracks E-85 prices.

Thirty percent of the 1,550 vehicles in the Department of Roads’ fleet are flex fuel. But last year, just 7,000 gallons of the 800,000 gallons of gas bought by the department was E-85. About 102,000 gallons of the 720,000 gallons purchased for Transportation Services Bureau vehicles was E-85, according to www.forbes.com.

Roughly half of those E-85 gallons were pumped from state-operated fuel stations. The state buys the E-85 in bulk at a lower price. As a general rule, E-85 is only purchased in bulk when it is at least 50 cents cheaper per gallon than E-10.

When it comes to buying vehicles, officials with both the Department of Transportation and Transportation Services Bureau don’t buy flex-fuel vehicles unless they cost the same or less than similar vehicles that do not run on E-85.

Of the Transportation Services Bureau’s 1,050 vehicle-fleet, nearly 40 percent are flex-fuel cars. This year, it plans to buy 85 flex-fuel vehicles — 70 percent of the total number of vehicles it plans to buy this year.

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