First E15, E85 ethanol gas pumps come to Florida

Source: By Jason Cook, The News-Press • Posted: Friday, December 5, 2014


While gas prices have stayed under $3 a gallon across much of Southwest Florida, some drivers aren’t content with just a good deal.

They want a great one.

Consumers who wanted to fill up on the cheap flocked to a Marathon gas station in Fort Myers on Wednesday that offered higher ethanol content gasoline for as little as $1.85 a gallon.

The company behind the promotion, Protec Fuel, was giving away gas on the cheap in Sarasota and Fort Myers, the first two locations in the state to carry this particular type of ethanol, said Steve Walk, vice president of operations and business development.

Ethanol — which is largely derived from corn — is a more environmentally friendly, cheaper alternative to conventional gasoline, which actually has 10 percent ethanol in it, and pretty much any car made after 2001 can use it safely, Walk said.

The fuel customers had the option of getting between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. earlier this week was E15, which is 15 percent ethanol, and E85, which is 85 percent ethanol, Walk said. While the E15 could go in most any post-2001 car, the E85 worked best in “flex fuel” vehicles, whose engines are designed to utilize the ethanol-based fuel properly.

Walk said his company’s job is to get ethanol from the “corn belt” of the country to places without it, which include Florida. About a half-dozen similar stations are being developed on the state’s east coast.

Why the Marathon on Boatways Road? Paul Przychocki, regional operation representative for Mid-State Energy Inc. — which owns the station — said it’s about offering consumers a choice, while also being environmentally aware.

“Well they’re mostly excited about the price,” Przychocki said of shoppers he talked to. “But it’s good to be on the cutting edge. It’s a great product.”

The station has had E15 for “about a week” and giving consumers more choice is always a good business move, he said. But a big part will be educating customers, as many don’t know that gasoline has 10 percent ethanol as it is.

“If you can get the same mileage and it doesn’t hurt your engine, it’s a better thing,” Przychocki said.

One savvy shopper pulled up to the pump and unloaded five plastic jugs that could hold about 10 gallons each.

Jeffrey Deates of Lehigh Acres said he uses the E85 for racing, as it’s higher octane and keeps the motors clean and build-up free. With its price running closer to $15 per gallon, Deates couldn’t say no to the E85 on sale for $1.85 a gallon.

“It can save some money. And we could all use it,” Deates said.