Photo by Tom Ross
Southside Station on U.S. Highway 40 next to the U.S. Forest Service offices is thought to be the first gas station in Steamboat Springs to sell E85 ethanol. The Shell branded station also offers biodiesel.
Steamboat Springs When a representative of the Mustang Roundup convention called the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association last week to find out whether E85 ethanol fuel was available in Steamboat, the answer was "yes." It would have been a different answer just a week earlier.
Southside Station, a Shell brand gas station and convenience store on U.S. Highway 40, began pumping E85 and B20 biodiesel June 13.
"We've sold some of both, and we've had lots of inquiries," station manager Kim Murrah said.
Southside Station's E85 was priced at $3.61 a gallon Monday, 50 cents lower than unleaded gasoline at many area stations. The biodiesel was priced at $5.26 a gallon, which does not represent a savings.
The classic 1960s pony cars that were here for the Mustang Roundup may not have been flex-fueled vehicles that are compatible with ethanol, but the pickups that hauled them over Rabbit Ears Pass in trailers may have been. And many more vacationers planning to come to Steamboat this summer may take advantage.
Lyn Halliday, whose company Environmental Solutions Unlimited consults with the Chamber's Sustainable Steamboat Business Program, says the demand is there.
"There are quite a few (Steamboat) businesses I work with who are interested in using E85," Halliday said. "People ask me about it all the time."
Halliday said corn-based ethanol may not represent the ideal alternative fuel, but the industry still is developing.
"I think all and all, the more diverse sources we have of clean, renewable fuels is a good thing," she said.
Southside Station owner Denise Peterson said she thinks her business is the only one in Northwest Colorado to pump E85.
A search of the U.S. Department of Energy's database shows no E85 pumps within 85 miles of Steamboat and pinpoints the closest pumps in Basalt, Fort Collins and Laramie, Wyo.
Petro West Distributors (formerly Weston Oil) on 13th Street formerly sold biodiesel, but discontinued the product.
Peterson said she is aware that the Biofuels Coalition of Gov. Bill Ritter's Energy Office is working to increase the availability of biofuels across the state.
Peterson's husband, Steve, just fueled up his pickup with biodiesel for a quick business trip to Wolcott and was pleased with the results.
"He didn't notice any change in performance," Peterson said.
Biodiesel is a renewable fuel produced domestically for use in diesel engines. It is derived from natural oils such as vegetable oil and can be blended in varying concentrations with traditional petroleum-based diesel.