Some stick with ethanol-free gas despite price

 

Ted Bowman lives in Grovetown and works in Hephzibah, but he drives to Evans to buy gas.

“I think it is better for the engines in all my tools,” Bowman said as he filled two 5-gallon containers with non-ethanol gasoline at Allen’s Country Store/Super Express in Evans.

Bowman, a science and technology teacher at Hephzibah High School, said he uses the fuel for a small generator and all his power yard tools. He used to use gasoline mixed with ethanol, which is cheaper and more readily available.

“But I had some problems a couple of years ago,” Bowman said. He took his equipment in for maintenance and a mechanic advised him to switch to ethanol-free gasoline and things have been fine since.

“Ethanol is notorious for gumming up small engines,” he said. “Now I have a boat and that engine is too expensive to fool around with.”

Paul Dhillon, the owner of Allen’s since 1995, said he became one of the few stations that still sells non-ethanol fuel about five years ago when fuel distributors started to push the ethanol mixture.

Dhillon, a retired electrical engineer, said he knew government subsidies would make the ethanol mixture less expensive, but he was unconvinced.

“They said it was good for the environment, but I decided to stay with this,” he said.

Dhillon said he has many loyal customers who can’t find the fuel he sells anywhere else. They tell him it works better in older vehicles and gives them better gas mileage in the newer ones.
“I get better performance, better gas mileage and it’s better for the life of my engine,” said Van Land, an Allstate insurance agent whose office is in Grovetown.

Land estimated his mileage improved by about 10 percent with the non-ethanol gas. He said that’s worth the extra 30 to 40 cents per gallon he expects to pay at the pump.

He said if you think about the long-term maintenance issues you avoid by using non-ethanol fuel, the higher price makes sense.

Jack Hayes, who has owned and operated Pair-of-Jacks in Appling with his wife, Sandi, on and off since 1982, said the price of the non-ethanol gas is becoming a bigger deterrent for his customers.

“There’s no reason for gas to be as high as it is; no reason at all,” Hayes said.

Pair-of-Jacks is one of the last places the non-ethanol fuel can be found. Hayes said he has customers who come from as far away as Waynesboro to buy fuel.

Hayes said many customers use the fuel exclusively in their boats.

“It’s (ethanol) terrible for motors, especially small motors, outboard motors, chain saws and such,” he said. “Ethanol gets in there and coats the engine and causes a lot of damage.”

He said he used to sell a lot more, but he has seen more customers switch to ethanol because of the price.

“A lot of people who have boats are going to ethanol because of the price,” he said. “They aren’t worrying about what happens to their motors until it happens.”

Hayes said non-ethanol fuel makes up about half of what he sells, but the percentage used to be a lot more.
“It is sort of changing, though,” he said. “The pocketbooks are making it change more than anything.”

CHANGES TO LAW

The Obama administration on Friday proposed to reduce the amount of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply for the first time, acknowledging that the biofuel law championed in 2007 is not working as well as expected.

In addition, the ethanol era has proven far more damaging to the environment than politicians promised and much worse than the government admits today.

INTERACTIVE MAP & DATABASE: Corn and Conservation Analysis

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