$10.9 million awarded for Calif. E85 stations

By Holly Jessen | June 10, 2010
Posted July 1, 2010

Seventy five additional E85 dispensers will soon be available in California. Propel Fuels Inc., a West coast-based owner and operator of alternative fueling stations, will do the installation work, thanks to funding from state, federal and private sources.

The California Energy Commission approved a $4 million grant while the DOE is providing $6.9 million in stimulus funding. Propel itself is pitching in $16.2 in private equity funds. Other partners in the project include the California's Department of General Services, the nation's largest fleet of state-owned vehicles, the East Bay Clean Cities Coalition, Calstart and the Local Conservation Corps of California.

Currently, there isn't a lot of ethanol being produced in California, said Steve Sokolsky, senior project manager for Calstart, which works with business, fleets, and government on clean and efficient transportation solutions. Besides the cost to transport ethanol to the state, there have been regulatory snags—namely permitting issues with the California Air Resource Board (CARB). "E85 has had a difficult time getting a foothold here," he said.

In all, the state only has about 30 E85 dispensers. The funding to install 75 more will make a big impact. "It's been a real push to work out a system to get these stations put in," Sokolsky told EPM. "I think we've finally got it worked out but it's been slow."

Once installed, the new E85 dispensers should reduce fossil fuel use by more than 24 million gallons and reduce emissions by about 170,000 tons per year, according to a press release. In addition, more than 450 jobs will be created or retained by the project.

In addition to the funding for E85 dispensers, the California Energy Commission also announced grants to install more than 2,300 charging stations for electric cars, including residential, commercial and fast chargers. The funding for that project comes to nearly $80 million coming from federal, state and private sources.

In all, including E85 and electric car charger projects, the awards add up to $15.4 million in state funding, $49.6 million in federal stimulus money and $49.3 million in private funds."California's investment will leverage more than six times as much money for new infrastructure and new jobs," said Energy Commissioner Anthony Eggert, "and help to solve one of the biggest problems with alternative-fueled vehicles—making sure motorists have ready access to fuel, including electricity."