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I-65 is Nation's First Biofuels Corridor


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The I-65 Biofuels Corridor extends from Gary, Indiana to Mobile, Alabama.

Interstate 65, extending 886 miles between Gary, Indiana, and Mobile, Alabama, is the nation's first "biofuels corridor." In 2005, there were no biofuel stations along I-65. Today the corridor designation means that a driver is no more than 100 miles from a participating E85 retailer. The $1.3 million federal project funded 31 E85 and five B20 stations and one biodiesel blending facility located on the Indiana-Ohio border. Matching funds for construction and conversion were provided by individual infrastructure owners. E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline for use in flexible fuel vehicles, and B20, a blend of 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum-based diesel for use in diesel vehicles, are fuels made with renewable agricultural products.

The corridor, which spans four states, was completed thanks to the Indiana Office of Energy and Defense Development (IOEDD), which worked with Carl Lisek of Indiana's South Shore Clean Cities, Kellie Walsh of Central Indiana Clean Cities, Melissa Howell of the Commonwealth Clean Cities Partnership (CCCP) in Kentucky, and Mark Bentley of the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition (ACFC).

The project began when Lisek and Walsh approached IOEDD about responding to the 2006 DOE Clean Cities solicitation which included infrastructure grants. Already in the process of ramping up biofuels expansion in the state, IOEDD welcomed the solicitation and encouraged Lisek and Walsh to identify partners from neighboring states.

Meetings with CCCP's Howell and ACFC's Bentley and the Tennessee State Energy Office soon expanded the plan across four states. IOEDD then developed the corridor proposal and was eventually awarded DOE funding to help build it.

According to Bentley, the I-65 corridor now has 15 biofuels fueling sites in Alabama, 19 in Indiana, and three each in Tennessee and Kentucky. But this couldn't have happened without the additional participation of the Indiana Soybean Alliance, Indiana Corn Growers Association, the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council, as well as the Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama stakeholders who supported local infrastructure development.

According to Julie Howe, IOEDD grants finance manager, the best advice for making this project and others like it work is to identify a strong entity to manage the process from grant writing to finance and subcontracting. "The state energy office in one state is equipped to handle a multistate project such as this," Howe says.

"This partnership is proof that you can join with other states to achieve a common goal," says Walsh, "This project has laid the foundation for other coalitions to partner across state lines for success."