California Working on Biofuel Access

John Davis

caflag.gifWhile California leads the nation in alternative fuel stations, pumps offering E85 ethanol and biodiesel are still extremely rare.

In fact, this Los Angeles Times story posted on says that out of the 835 alternative fuel stations, 379 offer electricity, 215 pump liquefied petroleum gas, and 174 dispense compressed natural gas… with just a handful offering biodiesel or E85. But that could change:

Now, however, California has adopted ambitious new goals for alternative fuels and cutting greenhouse gas emissions – and it can no longer afford to leave the public out of the mix.For starters, the state is going to increase the use of ethanol as a fuel additive to all gasoline sold here.

For years, California’s gasoline has contained 5.7% ethanol to boost octane and comply with federal emissions rules; starting in 2010, that will rise to 10% ethanol. For a state that consumes about 43 million gallons of gas each day, that change alone represents a huge jump in ethanol consumption.

Meanwhile, biodiesel backers have helped build a statewide roster of more than 50 sites that offer the fuel, with many selling to the public and offering blends ranging from B10 (10% biodiesel and 90% petroleum diesel) to B99, a nearly pure biodiesel fuel.

New state and federal grants will help add E85 sites. In May, the state air board set aside millions to help set up 34 public E85 stations. Most are planned for the Sacramento area, but new sites will also open in the coming weeks in Carlsbad and Oceanside in San Diego County. Separate grants will fund new E85 sites elsewhere later this year.

But getting commercial stations on board might be a little tougher. The article says it costs about $50,000 to add E85 pumps. In addition, the big oil companies, which own most of the commercial outlets, are not warm to allow alternatives to petroleum to be sold at their stations.

GM, which has sold the largest number of the six million E85 vehicles on the road in the country today, is trying to help pump up the use of E85 by underwriting events such as selling E85 for just 85 cents a gallon in an effort to get more people to use the greener fuel.

Biodiesel, E85, Ethanol, News