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H-E-B pump popular for flex-fuel cars

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Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2008 12:00 pm

By Kevin M. Smith

Killeen Daily Herald

Lewis Robinson said he has one reason for using E-85 fuel.

"Thirty cents to a gallon, it adds up," Robinson said.

An H-E-B grocery store in Killeen is one of the few places around that offers ethanol-blended fuel.

The E-85 fuel includes 85 percent ethanol – produced from corn and other grain products grown in the United States – and 15 percent regular unleaded gasoline, which only certain vehicles can take, according to a news release from H-E-B dated August 2006.

H-E-B at 2511 Trimmier Road in Killeen began offering the blended fuel in August 2006 as one of five H-E-B locations in Central Texas to sell E-85. H-E-B stores equipped with gas stations in Schertz, Buda, Austin and Waco also began selling the E-85 gasoline in 2006.

"It's been very successful," said Leslie Lockett, director of public affairs for H-E-B in Central Texas, on Monday.

Lockett said since the grocery store started offering the fuel alternative, customers have "gravitated" to it.

"First off, it's the price savings," Lockett said.

E-85 averages 30 cents less than the price of regular unleaded gasoline. That was evident at H-E-B on Trimmier Road in Killeen on Monday as regular gasoline was $2.95 and E-85 was $2.65. Robinson stopped there to fill up. Robinson, who came from Ohio to stay with his sister, said he noticed E-85 at H-E-B in September and has been using it ever since.

With crude oil prices hitting a record $100 a barrel this month, gas prices have topped $3 a gallon at some places.

"It's easier on the pocket," Robinson said about E-85.

Some say it's easier on the environment, too. E-85 burns about 40 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide, according to the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition.

But it's not for all vehicles. Only flex-fuel engines can handle the E-85. A variety of Chrysler, Ford, Nissan and a few other makes can take it.

A list at the NEVC Web site, www.e85fuel.com, provides a directory of cars that can use E-85. The NEVC also has a toll-free line at 1-877-485-8595 to tell motorists whether their car can use E-85.

Many vehicles that can take E-85 have a sign by the gas cap or a notation in the owner's manual stating so.

Motorists, like Robinson, who use E-85 said the gas mileage is about the same as when they use regular gasoline.

Andrelia Anderson bought a tank of E-85 for the first time Monday. She said her husband frequently uses the ethanol blend.

"He says it's good," Anderson said.

According to a search at drivingethanol.org, H-E-B on Trimmier Road in Killeen is the only place within 30 miles of Killeen that sells E-85. The next closest place is Waco.

Lockett said the product has been well-received in the military town.

"We've seen a great acceptance in the Killeen market because it (E-85) is domestic," Lockett said.

Contact Kevin M. Smith at ksmith@kdhnews.com or call (254) 501-7550

Can your car take ethanol gas?

The National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition Web site, http://www.e85fuel.com, provides a directory of cars that can use E-85. Or call toll-free at 1-877-485-8595.

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