A national consumer awareness campaign aimed at owners of flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) was officially launched in Orlando, Florida today at the Farm-to-Fuel Summit. The project is a cooperative effort between key Florida state government interests, gasoline/E85 distributors, the ethanol industry, and several nonprofit environmental and energy advocacy groups.
Ironically, Florida has one of the largest contingencies of FFVs in the country. Out of the current 8 million FFVs on the road, 500,000 are Florida residents. I know most of you assume they are in the Midwest but can you say snowbirds? Like many other states announcing initiatives to spur the development of alternative fuels such as ethanol, Florida is no different. At the helm of this initiative is Charles Bronson, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
“We can stimulate the state economy and create new biotech jobs simply by using more ethanol. Several advanced biofuel projects in our state will use our abundant renewable biomass resources, waste from our agriculture processing plants, and trash from our cities. There are hundreds of millions of dollars that are being invested in Florida for these 2nd generation ethanol plants and we need to develop the market by educating consumers now,” said Bronson.
While many organizations don’t like to have their ideas stolen, this is not the case for this program. The hope is that it is duplicated in every state in the country.
Douglas A. Durante, Director of the Clean Fuels Foundation noted, “The FFV Awareness driver education project is designed to locate and encourage drivers of FFVs to try higher blends of ethanol when they are available. This will help Florida meet its goals of reducing the cost of and reliance on imported oil, improving air quality, and creating economic development opportunities – all while reducing greenhouse gases. This is a Win-Win-Win for Florida drivers, the state government, and the nation.”
There are currently thirty E85 stations in the state, with a majority of them located in the South Florida market. The 2,000 E85 station was opened earlier this year in Miami.
The FlexFuel Vehicle Club is encouraging Florida drivers to check their Vehicle Identification Numbers, owner’s manuals, and fuel tank doors to see if they already own an FFV. The FFV awareness project is a perfect compliment to recent federal economic stimulus plan that provides grants to states to fund the development E85 refueling stations in the United States.
“FFV owners hold the key to Florida’s and America’s clean energy future. Consumer choice and alternative fuels have arrived in Florida in the form of E85 and FFVs and it will be up to the consumer to keep choice and the national Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by using higher blends of ethanol. We will work with all interested parties to start decaling FFVs in Florida and create a very dynamic and special community of interest,” said Burl Haigwood, president of the FlexFuel Vehicle Club.
“The state can play a key role in helping national and state organizations trying to develop alternative fuels by helping us identify ways to contact and educate FFV owners so they are aware of the capabilities of their vehicles to operate on blends of ethanol up to 85. National surveys are showing that consumers want to act, and this is something they can do today,” said Haigwood.
Other efforts are underway at the federal level to increase biofuel use through the mandate of FFVs. In essence, all of the bills mandate at least 50 percent of all cars sold in the U.S. be FFV’s by 2012. However, at this time, none have passed.
Click here to read the full press release and to get a list of all the progam partners.