Photo via Spencer Thomas/Flickr.

Photo via Spencer Thomas/Flickr.

Growth in the number of E-85 fueling stations has slowed since 2011, as demand has fallen for the higher-blend ethanol fuel blend, according to federal data.

The number of retail E-85 fueling stations in the U.S. increased 7 percent from 2011 to 2013, when the total reached 2,625 stations offering E-85. From 2007 to 2011, the number of E-85 fueling stations nearly doubled from 1,229 to 2,442, according to data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Minnesota leads the nation with 336 E-85 fueling stations, according to the EIA, which cited data from the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC). Retail sites offering E-85 since 2007, the first year data was collected, have been in the Corn Belt states of the Midwest including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Since 2007, other states have begun to offer the E-85 blend. California, New York, Colorado, Georgia, and Texas added more than 49 retail locations each between 2007 and 2013, according to the AFDC. In that time, the five Midwestern states' share of E85 stations dropped from 54 percent in 2007 to 36 percent in 2013.

California and New York added the most E-85 stations, growing from less than a dozen sites between the two of them to more than 80 locations each in 2013.

Alaska and New Hampshire currently have no E-85 fueling sites, compared to nine in 2007. Retailers in the Northeast, excluding New York, recorded the slowest E-85 adoption. In New England, on 13 E-85 stations were added, mostly in Massachusetts.

Despite showing some growth, adoption of E-85 remains a slow climb. Only 2 percent of retail locations in the U.S. now offer E-85, serving 5 percent of the light-duty fleet of flex-fuel vehicles capable of running on E-85. The situation isn't expected to improve.

In November, Obama's EPA announced it would cut ethanol fuel output mandates for 2014 for the first time since 2007, citing lower demand for higher fuel blends of the corn-based fuel.

The federal government maintains a significant number of flex-fuel vehicles in its fleet. There were 176,271 vehicles running on E-85 of a total of 650,061 at the end of 2012, according to the GSA's Federal Fleet Report. Flex-fuel vehicles accounted for more than 27 percent of federal fleet vehicles, and E-85 was the top alternative fuel used.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet