Flex-fuel vehicles can fill up with E85 in Seaview

<I>ANDREW RENWICK photo</I><BR>Seaview One Stop is one of a few locations in the Pacific Northwest where owners of flex-fuel vehicles can fill up with low-cost, environment-friendly ethanol-based fuel.

SEAVIEW - As gas prices continue to rise rapidly in our area, some residents may find relief because of a local gas station's earth-friendly and money-saving efforts to offer alternative fuels to motorists.

Since 1994, Seaview One Stop has sold gas, beverages, food items and other supplies to area residents and visitors alike. Under new management, the station now boasts a freshly renovated convenience store area with the addition of E85 at the pump.

According to the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, E85 is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline and is considered an alternative fuel by the U.S. Department of Energy. Made from fermented plant sugars, ethanol is a "high octane, liquid, domestic and renewable fuel." By using less gasoline and using ethanol (made from corn and other grains), 105-octane E85 is approximately 80 to 95 cents cheaper per gallon than the typical gasoline fuels (at the time of publication, Seaview One Stop was charging $2.39 per gallon for E85). In addition to being easier on the wallet, E85 also "burns cleaner than gasoline" and is a "completely renewable, domestic, environmentally friendly fuel that enhances the nation's economy and energy independence." Ethanol is biodegradable and can be produced from a variety of feedstock products - even paper and agricultural waste.

Manager Katee Woodby says the idea for E85 came about around the time owners Steve Wilcox and Tom Downer decided to purchase new dispensers to replace the older, weatherworn ones. The station has had E85 available since Oct. 22 and Woodby feels the fuel identified by a yellow hose is becoming a popular choice, possibly because of its rareness.

"Our station in Seaview is one of three public stations in the state of Washington with an E85 dispenser," she explains. "There is one station in Longview and another is expected to open soon in Spokane. ... E85 is mainly a Midwest thing because that is where it's produced, but they are pushing towards producing it in California, too."

The one drawback to E85 is that not all vehicles are compatible with the new fuel. Cars that can effectively run on E85 are referred to as "flex-fuel vehicles," which can run on ethanol fuels or gasoline. To find out if you have a flex-fuel vehicle, go to www.drivingethanol.org and click on "Flex-Fuel Vehicle Indentifier."

Currently, certified EPA-approved E85 conversions are only available for fleet vehicle use. The National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition warns, "converting a vehicle that was designed to operate on unleaded gasoline only to operate on another form of fuel is a violation of the federal law and the offender may be subject to significant penalties."

According to Cars.com, drivers should also consider the fact that E85 typically yields fewer miles per gallon than gasoline.

Some gas stations offer E10, which contains 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol. E10 can be used with any gasoline-powered vehicle.

GM, Texaco and E85 promotion activities are scheduled at Seaview One Stop on Nov. 24 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Come check it out!

Seaview One Stop is located at 4105 Pacific Highway in Seaview. Its operating hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information on services they provide, call 642-4223. To learn more about E85, visit the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition Web site at (www.e85fuel.com).

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