Ethanol-blend pumps debut in city
A local gas station owner is hoping that newly installed blended fuel pumps will encourage the public to increase consumption of ethanol. Last week, six new pumps were installed at Jack's Sinclair, 1905 N. Main St. The pumps give the consumer an ...
A local gas station owner is hoping that newly installed blended fuel pumps will encourage the public to increase consumption of ethanol.
Last week, six new pumps were installed at Jack's Sinclair, 1905 N. Main St. The pumps give the consumer an option to choose gasoline blended with 10, 30 or 85 percent ethanol, and are the first of their kind in Mitchell. Similar pumps have been installed in Watertown but are not commonly found elsewhere in the state.
The 30 percent blend, or E-30, has not been fully approved for use in all vehicles. A disclaimer recommends that the fuel be used only with flex-fuel vehicles, which are specifically manufactured to handle the fuel. However, Jack's Sinclair owner Jack Wiebelhaus said he's been using E-30 in his 2001 vehicle and has yet to see any adverse side effects.
U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said Thursday in a conference call with reporters that the availability of E-30 fuel in communities like Mitchell and Watertown is "great," and he hopes it will be part of a growing trend across the country.
"I hope these attempts and pilot projects that are out there demonstrate to drivers that higher blends work," he said. "I think that's what we're finding to be the case with regards to the pumps in Watertown ... and I think that will also be true with regard to Mitchell."
Wiebelhaus said concerns about high fuel prices led him to pursue the blender pumps' installation. He said it is difficult to see consumers paying everincreasing prices while oil companies enjoy billions in profit.
"I don't think it's been marketed fairly on the national level," he said of higher-blended ethanol. "Right now, with the way the economy is, our fuel sales are price driven. Everybody seems to want to buy the ethanol because of the price."
He estimates that E-30 sales make up 5 to 8 percent of his fuel sales. However, total ethanol sales, including E-10 and E-85, account for 70 percent of his
Wiebelhaus is hoping to save his customers 30 cents per gallon by selling E-30 fuel. If the blended fuel is a success, he plans to install similar pumps at his other Sinclair location in Mitchell. He also has installed a 2,000-gallon diesel tank at Jack's Sinclair that may one day hold biodiesel.
To him, the offering of blended fuels is a logical solution to the high price of gasoline.
"We're sitting right out here in the Midwest where we have all of the resources available to us," he said.
"Our primary purpose is to get the public a fair price."