GAITHERSBURG, MD - Even though Gilbarco announced that it has upgraded its warranty on dispensers to cover fuels containing up to 15 percent ethanol, the move fails to authorize retailers to sell any fuel containing more than 10 percent ethanol, according to NACS Vice President of Government Relations John Eichberger
The latest issue of Oil Express reported that Gilbarco has upgraded the warranty on its dispensers to cover fuels containing up to 15 percent ethanol. Gilbarco told the trade publication that it was pleased to change its warranty, "ensuring that our customers are covered if the current E10 standard is broadened to E15."
This new warranty will apply to all dispensers manufactured after April 1, 2008.
While Gilbarco€™s announcement may eventually provide additional protection for retailers, Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations stipulate that retailers must use equipment that has been listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, like Underwriters Laboratories. Any retailer who sells a fuel product through equipment that is not officially listed as compatible with that particular fuel violates federal regulations, violates bank loan covenants, violates tank insurance policies, and can be sued for gross negligence.
Despite the report that "marketers can get non-UL approved equipment authorized for use by contacting the local fire marshal," the equipment remains illegal for this purpose, noted Eichberger. The fire marshal does not have the authority to waive federal law. Unless the dispenser, the underground tank and piping systems, and all the hanging hardware have been certified by an organization like UL as compatible with the fuel being sold, regardless whether the fire marshal provided authorization, the retailer is in violation.
"It is understandable why retailers would be confused," said Eichberger. "They are being told they can sell these fuels by a number of groups: the ethanol industry, the equipment manufacturers, their local fire marshals and even by the federal government, which has provided grants to help with the installation of E85 equipment. But the bottom line is this: unless your equipment - all of your equipment - is officially certified as compatible with the fuel you are selling, you are violating federal law and could be sued for gross negligence."
Recently, Gilbarco and Dresser Wayne both received UL certification for specific dispensers to sell E25. However, retailers are only authorized to sell these products through these specific dispensers if their dispenser was manufactured after the date of certification. If a retailer installed one of these units in January 2010, it is not legally certified to sell anything above E10. Only those units manufactured after the UL certification are legal for these fuels.
NACS continues to pursue legislation in Congress that will change the certification requirements for equipment to open the possibility that retailers could legally sell these higher renewable fuel products without replacing their entire infrastructure.