Ethanol fuel tank project is coming to Brookings

Emma Dejong

Emma Dejong

Gov. Mike Rounds is making a push for South Dakota’s state vehicles to run on fuel with a higher concentration of ethanol. To do this, special fuel tanks are being added that will provide fuel with up to 85 percent ethanol.

There are currently three of these tanks in South Dakota: one in Rapid City, one in Sioux Falls and one in Pierre. Brookings is next on the list.

“We are working on a plan with SDSU to put a tank in hopefully next spring,” said Jeff Bloomberg, commissioner of the Bureau of Administration. “SDSU is the second largest consumer of fuel (next to Pierre).”

State vehicles from the Brookings area as well as other cities often drive through Brookings to refuel.

“We pump about 220,000 gallons a year to state vehicles including the highway patrol, Game, Fish and Parks, [and the] Department of Transportation,” said Director of Finance and Budget Wes Tschetter.

Many positive outcomes are foreseen with the new tanks. Farmers who grow corn will benefit from the increased need for ethanol, while after some research and experimentation, state vehicles will be using the most efficient type of fuel.

“[Gov. Rounds] has always been a supporter of ethanol,” Bloomberg said. “It’s a really good opportunity to study how effective biofuels are.”

Bloomberg sees the new tanks as profitable because of the way the fuel is purchased as well as the predicted increased mileage.

“We will actually purchase the ethanol straight from the wholesalers rather than go through the retailers,” he said. “And over time we will be switching the blends that we purchase. It’s a good research opportunity for us.”

Mike Reger, vice president for administration, stated that to officially say there will be a tank at SDSU, the Board of Regents must first approve the plan. One aspect that will have to be considered is that the Fleet and Travel building on campus will have to be relocated from where it is now, just off Medary Avenue, to an area north of the Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.

“The faculty and administration have been very cooperative and easy to work with,” said Bloomberg.

Although nothing is final, he hopes the project will continue in this way.

“We will increase pretty dramatically the amount of ethanol we will be consuming,” Bloomberg said.

#1.881474:890570230.jpg:DSCF0951.1.jpg:Benjamin Curnow, a junior microbiology major, fills up a motor pool vehicle with gas.:Jiajun Yang