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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Ethanol Cheaper But You Can't Find It

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I am truly angry at the price of gasoline in this country. I do realize that other countries have had this problem for years and they pretty much tell us "Waaaa". If we had already had that situation, I would feel the same.

Nevertheless, we did not have that situation for all these years so I am angry at the companies who put out the product but hold back until the price is through the roof. Then, if that were not enough, they post huge profits from our dollars and thumb their noses at the buying public since we appear to not be able to effect change in any way. I do think that is wrong. If only enough people would have the courage to say no to those companies for a day or two, it would surely effect a change.

Now, about today's post, the same oil companies that have been thumbing their noses at us with those horrifying prices are doing so in another area. Some of the new cars coming out now have the ability to run on a mix which is called "E85" and is a blend of ethanol and gasoline at 85%. Those who do produce this type of fuel say that it is an alternative to the higher priced gasoline.

There is, however, a hitch in the gitalong. Seems that there are few stations selling the mix. There are many more cars out there that are capable of using the stuff but there are very few stations able to sell it. The vehicles able to use this mix are called "flexible fuel vehicles" and there are about 5 million of them on the road right now. On the other hand, in all of this country there are only 1,145 service stations available to the public for those same cars. Believe me when I tell you, that usually does not include many rural areas. At least, it does not include where we live in a rural area.

The real kicker here is that by the year 2010, the automakers have promised at least double their current production of the flexible fuel vehicles. In fact, of those who have that type of vehicle now, not all of them are aware that they have such a vehicle. Weird, huh?

Now, the problem lies in the hands of the gas station owners who are steadfast against spending a load of money on this addition to their stores. 167,000 retail gas stations exist in this country and almost all are extremely slow to work this out. The problem there seems to be that they have a load of trouble trying to get the pumps certified. Plus, the market is so new they do not want to take the risk.

There is this other thing about the ethanol mix. It is not as fuel efficient. While the current price of the mix (IF you can find it) is around $2.59 rather than the national average of $3.14, it drops the fuel economy about 10-15 percent. Not so hot either. At this point in time, it appears to be a toss up.