HBIIP 101

In July 2023, the USDA initiated the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) with a $450 million budget, opening applications to fuel retailers quarterly. The current application window closes on March 31, 2024. The program aims to enhance sustainable fuel markets, offering grants to transportation fueling and distribution facilities for ethanol and biodiesel infrastructure improvements.

Key Points

  • Quarterly application windows with $90 million each quarter.
  • Funds for fueling and distribution facilities, with specific allocations.
  • HBIIP contributes to economic recovery, supports biofuel producers, and aligns with President Biden’s carbon emissions goals.

HBIIP Application Windows

  1. October 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023
  2. January 1, 2024 to March 31, 2024
  3. April 1, 2024 to June 30, 2024
  4. July 1, 2024 to September 30, 2024

For more information, visit the HBIIP webpage, the Federal Register or Grants.gov.

Notice of Funding Opportunity

What does this program do?

The USDA is targeting resources and investments, including ethanol and biodiesel, to improve the strength and resiliency of America’s sustainable fuel markets. Through HBIIP, transportation fueling and fuel distribution facilities will be able to apply for grants to help install, retrofit, and/or upgrade fuel storage, dispenser pumps, related equipment and infrastructure to be able to sell ethanol and biodiesel.

HBIIP paves the way to economic recovery for America’s biofuel producers, stimulates a critical market for U.S. farmers and ranchers, and moves the country closer to President Biden’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

HBIIP significantly increases the sales and use of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel by expanding the infrastructure for renewable fuels derived from U.S. agricultural products. The program is also intended to share costs related to building out biofuel-related infrastructure.

Cost-share grants and/or incentives will be made available for fuel ethanol blends higher than 10%, such as E15 or higher, and biodiesel blends higher than 5%, such as B20 or higher.

What funding is available?

Funds may only be used for eligible equipment, infrastructure and related expenses to support the sale and use of higher biofuel blends.

There is a matching funds requirement. Matching funds must cover the remaining eligible costs not covered by grant funds. It is:

• Required to receive a HBIIP grant
• Secured by applicant – must have written commitments, such as bank statements for cash and Letters of Commitment for in-kind contributions
• Remainder – All eligible project costs not covered by Grant funds
• Consist of cash and In-kind contributions
• No in-kind from applicants
• Not from other federal grants
• Passive tax equity contributions allowed

Eligible Costs:

• Incurred after a complete application is submitted;
• Purchase, installation, and/or retrofitting of fuel dispensers related equipment and infrastructure to support higher blend fuel sales;
• Construction, replacement, improvements;
• Fees – construction permits, and licenses;
• Professional service fees.

Ineligible Costs:

• Renewable diesel projects; •Sustainable Aviation Fuel projects;
• Used equipment and vehicles;
• Construction or equipment costs that would be incurred regardless of the HBIIP project;
• Purchase real property or land;
• Lease payments;
• Expenses associated with applying for HBIIP; and
• Expenses associated with reporting, disbursement, performance and service of HBIIP.

Due to supply chain delays, the USDA encourages retailers applying for HBIIP funding to start ordering equipment and scheduling contractors early in the process. Costs can be incurred once a complete application is submitted, however no construction can begin until the agency completes its environmental review(s).

Grants cover up to 75% or $5 million of total project costs to help facilities convert to higher-blend fuels. The fuels must be greater than 10% for ethanol and greater than 5% for biodiesel.

How do we get started?

To apply, visit the HBIIP website here.

HELPFUL TIPS:
  • Start with the HBIIP Checklist Online Application System, which can be found under the To Apply tab on the USDA’s HBIIP webpage.
  • You must “Register Your Entity” within the SAM system to be able to apply. We recommend starting this process as soon as possible because it can take some time for the verification process to be completed.
  • The application period will end on the last day of each Federal Fiscal Year Quarter at 3:30 p.m. Central time.
  • Prior to selling higher ethanol blends, retailers must notify the EPA with plans for Misfueling Mitigation and Compliance Survey. You can adopt existing Misfueling Mitigation Plans. Find examples here and here. Read this for more details about both plans.
  • The Nebraska Ethanol Board keeps a small number of labels in our office that are free for fuel retailers. To ask questions about labeling or to order, click here.
  • Check out NEB’s issue brief on Infrastructure Compatibility with Higher Blends of Ethanol to answer all of your questions about how retailers can use their infrastructure to offer higher blends.

Who can answer questions?

Jeff Carpenter, HBIIP Manager

HBIIP@gmail.com

402-437-5554

Jeff Carpenter, HBIIP Manager, USDA Rural Development

USDA Webinars & Resources

For USDA checklists and important resources, visit the To Apply tab on the HBIIP website.

Webinars

HBIIP Overview and Enrollment Orientation July 6 at 2:30 PM CST

Tutorials

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) launched a series of short, fuel marketer-focused videos (linked below) breaking down the HBIIP application process into manageable pieces to encourage retailers to apply. The videos were produced in coordination with USDA.

Try the Flex Check E15 compatibility tool to see if your existing equipment is compatible with E15.

Step 1 – Getting Started On Your HBIIP Application

Step 2A – Hurry Up and (Get This Stuff Done While You) Wait

Step 2B – Hurry Up and (Get This Stuff Done While You) Wait

Step 3 – I’m In! Navigating the HBIIP Applications

Step 4 – Devil’s In the Details – Filling in the Application

Step 5A – Station Information (and Tips to Raise Your Score)

Step 5B – Match Vs. Capped Costs (and Tips to Raise Your Score)

Step 6 – Financial Info: Show USDA the Money

Technical & Grant Writing Support

Several partners in the ethanol industry are available to make the process for applying easier. They are listed below, in alphabetical order, by organization. Some of these services do incur costs. These partners can assist your team with:

  • USDA Application entry (Portal)
  • Technical Report
  • Matching funds
  • Government Forms
  • Environmental Checklist(s), and Environmental Report(s)
  • Review
  • Client communication
  • Final meeting/walkthrough with your team
  • And more!

Ron Lamberty, American Coalition for Ethanol, Sr. Vice President, at rlamberty@ethanol.org or 605-977-7622.

Jamey Cline, Christianson PLLP,  Business Development Director, at jcline@christiansoncpa.com or 573- 680-6499.

Sara Brenden, Growth Energy, Director of Market Development Operations, at sbrenden@GrowthEnergy.org or 402-740-9898.

Randy Gard, Nebraska Ethanol Board, Petroleum Marketer Representative; Amber Rucker, Nebraska Ethanol Board, Marketing & Finance Manager, at amber.rucker@nebraska.gov or 402-471-2941.

Cassie Mullen, Renewable Fuels Association, Director of Market Development, at cmullen@ethanolrfa.org or 832-415-7882.

Why Sell Higher Ethanol Blends?

  • Receive a tax credit! Learn more here.
  • Give patrons more options (healthier and more affordable!)
  • Bolster our rural economies
  • Show your commitment to improving global health

In Nebraska, E85 is available at 132 fueling stations. E15 is available at 125 fueling stations, and that number continues to grow. Find locations at fueledbynebraska.com.

“At the retail level, very simply put, E15 is better fuel and it costs less. There is now nothing standing in your way today to make the transition from E10. There are incentives with LB1261e, there’s consumer demand, there are certainly price pressures, and increased availability at the terminals. This is a win for everybody…retailers, legislators, farmers and ranchers, and especially users of ethanol who support Nebraska’s economy, help the environment, and save money every time they fill up.”

Randy Gard, COO
Bosselman Enterprises was an early adopter of E15 at many of its Pump and Pantry locations across the state. They continue to see double digit sales growth for E15 every year.

By selling a 10% blend at the pump, fuel retailers are already helping Nebraskans save at least $275 million per year. That savings increases when higher blends are figured in.

As an American-made product, retailers are able to sell ethanol at a lower cost than expensive, dangerous components of premium gasoline typically used to boost octane. This in turn makes a fuel that’s easier on patrons pocketbooks, reduces tailpipe emissions, and it reduces greenhouse gases from traffic pollution by a whopping 43% (USDA)!


Who Has Added Higher Blends?

To learn more about getting started with installing higher ethanol blends, reach out to the Board or check your Infrastructure Compatibility with Higher Blends of Ethanol.

Consider attending one of our free E15 Fuel Retailer Workshops. Ethanol Producer Magazine featured the E15 Workshops, which have inspired several fuel retailers to take the next step.