E85 fuel dries up in Louisville

July 7, 2006

Costs force lone station to end sales

by Robert Shoenberger, The Courier-Journdal

The only station offering a blend of 85 percent ethanol to drivers in Louisville has stopped selling it.

Cecil’s Chevron at 447 S. Eighth St. stopped taking deliveries of the E85 ethanol-gasoline blend last month because prices were too high, station co-owner Bob Arnold said.

The fuel, which is often touted as an alternative to gasoline, hasn’t been selling. “Ethanol has been for the past few months more expensive,” Arnold said.

At the end of last month, Arnold said he was selling regular gasoline for $2.79 per gallon, but E85 cost $2.92 or more. 

Most of that increase has come since May when refiners began using ethanol to replace MTBE, a fuel additive suspected of causing cancer, Kelly said.

“As contracts run out, or if people don’t have contracts, they’re having to pay very high prices on the spot market,” Kelly said of gas stations such as Cecil’s.

Louisville resident Russ Salsman used to buy E85 from Cecil’s, but he said he wasn’t surprised when he saw a sign last week that the station was out of the fuel.

He said he is willing to pay the same price for E85 as he would for gasoline, but he isn’t willing to pay more because a gallon of E85 doesn’t go as far as gasoline.

“It’s $60 to fill up the tank in my (Ford) Explorer. It would be crazy of me to take a hit on mileage,” Salsman said.

Arnold said that has been the reaction of many of his customers.

“Everybody’s price conscious. If the price is less, they’re willing to buy it,” Arnold said.

While E85 will work in many vehicles, it can damage the engines of ones not designed for it. Check your owner’s manual to see if your car can burn E85 before using it.

The only other station selling E85 in Kentucky is a Max Fuel store in Hopkinsville, according to the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition. Gerald White, vice president of retail sales for station owner Max Arnold & Sons, said his company has a deal with a local ethanol distiller that sets the E85 price at 50 cents per gallon below regular gasoline.

“We’re getting a lot of customers coming in for it,” White said.

If he had to pay market prices for his fuel, White said he would probably be in the same position as Cecil’s.

The price increases on ethanol come as automakers promote the fuel as an environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum.

Many popular vehicles, such as newer versions Ford’s F-150 pickup, can use the fuel. But availability, outside of a few corn-growing states in the Midwest, has been very limited.

GM and Kroger announced yesterday that the grocery chain would sell E85 at some stations in Ohio. Kroger spokesman Tim McGurk said the chain is testing ethanol’s popularity at stations in Ohio and Texas. If sales are strong, he said the company could begin selling E85 in Kentucky — but there are no plans to do so soon.

Retail chain Meijer announced plans in April to sell E85 in Detroit, and that company also said it might offer the fuel in Louisville if sales are strong elsewhere.

Reporter Robert Schoenberger can be reached at (502) 582-4669.
rschoenberger@courier-journal.com

Source: Courier-Journal

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4 Responses to “E85 fuel dries up in Louisville”

  1. dubs1 said

    Americans should not buy gas for a week and shut the country down and see who is so smart when no money is made off the gas. e85 is nothing new. i was buying e85 in 1981 and 82 in Michigan. but people do not stick together unless its a race and if it was not for the war no one would. they just are keeping me from my travels and I will never forget it.

    i would like to use some nasty words and talk about some politicians wife, but would be arrested and put in jail so i have no freedom of speech left. what do i have?
    i can look out my window and be followed around on this inter-net. but! WW1 that mess was OK. nam, that was OK. hay wake up America!

    retired.

    and cant do a damn thing except eat the junk food the country offers at the fast food joints, get fat and die so the fat ass politicians can smile and get my death tax MONEY.

  2. ldubya said

    20-30% less efficient than gasoline, produces more smog, uses millons of gallons of water to process / grow and drives up the cost of eggs and other commodities. Hell what more do you want from a “GREEN” fuel? I am sold, I’ll pay top dollar for that! Lets convert the whole country and give tax breaks to every corporation that produces it, sells it and makes cars the use it. And the kicker, nobody will question it because it’s Earth friendly.

    God I love this country!

  3. observer said

    In response to the July 10th submission, it is really only 5-10% less efficient, involves a process which uses the byproducts of a separate process making it much cheaper to produce a gallon of it than gasoline, makes your carton of eggs go from .96 to .97 maybe, and oh by the way allows us to not depend on other countries for the main “ingredients”. You are without a doubt one of the most brilliant minds on this planet and are desparately in need of a library card.

  4. nice post im driving a car powered on water fuel to drive its good against global warming and it saves me loads of money too you check it out here: link

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