The E85 Ethanol Option

By: Nichole Vrsansky
By: Nichole Vrsansky

As prices at the pump soar above the $2.00 mark, Gov. Rod Blagojevich is hoping motorists and gas station owners take a closer look at another option, E85 ethanol gas.

Chuck Turngren has strong feelings about our gas prices these days.

"I think they stink," he says.

But Turngren's been able to keep more money in his pocketbook by filling up at the E85 pump. His Dodge Caravan is equipped to handle the mostly ethanol fuel, so instead of pumping out $2.05 a gallon, try $1.97.

"We thought it was great and the wife says there was no difference in the way it performs," says Turngren.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich just set aside $500,000 to fuel an increase in the number of these pumps throughout the state. Gas stations will be able to apply for grants to covert existing pumps to E85 or install new ones.

"It also burns cleaner so it's better for the environment and 85 percent of it is renewable, so we rely less on foreign oil," explains Mike Schultz, sales manager for Rockford Oil.

There are only about 20 E85 pumps in Illinois. Phillips 66 has the only one in Rockford, but high gas prices don't seem to be fueling E85 sales.

"I just don't know how many people are aware of it. Probably if more people were aware and they knew it was cheaper," says Schultz.

Schultz says the governor's initiative could help spread the word, but in the meantime, Turngren is taking full advantage of the benefits.

Not all cars can takeE85 gasoline. To find out if you're car is on the list you can head to www.illinoisengergy.org or www.illinoisgreenfleets.org.

Turngren says he notices his car's gas mileage isn't quite as good using E85, but says the cost benefit still makes it worth it.


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