Beware the sticker price.
Propel Fuels, which wants to build 75 alternative fuel gas stations in California, unveiled one in Oakland yesterday, according to several news reports. The company already operates stations in Oakland and Seattle.
One of the big problems with ethanol has been the availability of pumps dispensing E85, the 85 percent ethanol/15 percent gas blend. While General Motors and others have sold thousands of flex fuel cars, the U.S. only has a handful of ethanol stations. In 2008, there were 1,400 compared to 170,000 gas stations. Propel is trying to solve that problem by installing and paying for the pumps, tanks and other infrastructure (it can run up to $150,000) itself. Gas station owners mostly just have to have available real estate for Propel to do its work.
But there is another issue with cost. Look at the price in that first link. E85 at the Oakland station sells for $2.49 a gallon. E85 only has about 70 percent of the energy of a gallon of gas. Divide $2.49 by 0.70 and you get $3.56 a gallon for fuel. That's more than a gallon of gas costs currently in Oakland. The retail price also already reflects subsidies paid to refiners.
--The California Public Utilities Commission just released its periodical efficiency report. The agency reiterated its goal of getting builders to shift to a "net zero" energy standard for homes by 2020 and a net zero standard for commercial buildings by 2030. The technology exists to build net zero homes now -- Zeta Communities has built a net zero home in Oakland -- and the prices for some technologies will continue to fall. More coming from the CPUC at this link.
The CPUC will also hear an independent evaluation from the Structure Group on PG&E's smart meter program tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. We will cover it.
--General Motors is trying to trademark "range anxiety" according to Jalopnik. Why not trade mark "scabies" or "unsightly twitch" while you're at it? Tesla has scoffed. Will GM succeed? "Possibly," says the Magic 8 Ball.