Chief joins Acorn, 1st Stop in offering E85 on Westside

       A short ceremony Aug. 24 inaugurated the Chief Petroleum Company's new E85 station outside its headquarters at 301 S. 10th St.
       The opening made the location the third on the Westside and fourth in Colorado Springs to carry E85. The other Westside pumps are at 1st Stop-Farm Crest, which opened in June at 21st and Colorado; and at the family-owned Acorn store at Eighth and Cimarron, which has had an E85 pump for five years, according to co- owner/manager Harlan Ochs.
       Dignitaries on hand at the Chief ceremony included Stacey Simms of Governor Bill Ritter's Biofuels Coalition, Colorado Springs Vice Mayor Larry Small, City Council member Jerry Heimlicher and US Department of Energy representative Ernie Oakes.
       “Your city is well on its way with alternative fuels,” Simms said in a brief speech. “It makes me proud to look around and see local people taking action.”
       The coalition provides cash incentives of up to $15,000, as well as tax incentives, to businesses getting started with alternative fuels, Simms and Oakes explained.
       Owned by Vic Ziemer, Chief Petroleum is a major supplier of gasoline and diesel fuel products in Colorado Springs. He said the business has been in his family since 1965, and the 2-acre site itself, adjacent to a residential neighborhood just north of Highway 24, has been an oil plant since the '20s and '30s.
       E85 is a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent unleaded gas. Called “renewable energy” because corn is used to make the ethanol, the blend costs noticeably less than typical gas types ($2.29 a gallon at Chief Aug. 24) and is specifically geared for Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs).
       About 300,000 FFVs are now in Colorado, and the number is growing, according to a Biofuels Coalition press release. There are currently 30 different vehicle model types that can use E85, Simms added.
       “The significant number of FFVs will provide considerable demand for this new E85 pump and we are happy to offer it,” said Eric Liebold of Chief.
       Renee Shellhorse, marketing manager for Pester Marketing (owner of 1st Stop stores), also cited the increase in FFVs, as well as a desire by her company to be “environmentally friendly.” She said there are a total of six 1st Stop stores in Colorado with E85 pumps.
       Ochs is pleased to see more stores coming on line with E85 because the increased public awareness could help sales. “We've been patiently waiting for growth to come in the E-85 business,” he said. “We were the only one in Colorado Springs until the last 60 to 90 days.”
       Another major area fuel supplier, Acorn is headquartered in the downtown area. It has five Colorado stores with E85 pumps, Ochs said.
       Although technically only FFV vehicles with yellow gas caps are “supposed” to use E85, unofficial reports are that occasional use of it by other cars, including older ones, is not harmful.
       In interviews before and after the ceremony, Simms and Oakes rejected criticisms that E85 is not truly cost-effective because its true costs of production offset the “renewable energy” goals. Oakes said critics have overstated these costs, and clarified that the type of corn used in making ethanol is “feed corn, not sweet corn.” Simms argued that overall, E85 “supports US farmers and is American-made. I prefer to give my money to businesses in our country than to ones overseas when we don't know their intentions.”
       Oakes concluded that “corn is not the answer, but a bridge” to future American technology which will hopefully bring forward even more efficient renewable fuels.
       Also present at the ceremony was Nick Kittle, financial manager of the Colorado Springs vehicle fleet, who noted that city (including Utilities) vehicles have now used more than 1 million gallons in alternative fuels (mainly the type called biodiesel).
       The Chief pump is unattended and open 24/7. Its use requires a fuel card, available from Chief.

Westside Pioneer article