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Athens 1 of 4 state cities to offer alternative fuels

By Holly Hollman
hhollman@decaturdaily.com 340-2445

Athens will be one of four cities in the state on Interstate 65 that will offer alternative fuels as part of the Alabama Clean Corridors Program.

Gov. Bob Riley announced Wednesday that a federal grant is funding the installation of pumps with alternative fuels E85 and B20 biodiesel. The pumps will be at stations in Athens, Cullman, Vestavia Hills and Mobile within the next eight months.

Dwight Billings owns the site at 1700 U.S. 72 E. where the Athens station will open.

Billings said Eagle Biodiesel Inc. in Bridgeport is constructing the station between Mattress Max and Burger King, east of the interstate.

"It will be pumps and an above-ground tank," Billings said. "It will be self-service. There won't be any attendants."

The site in Cullman will be at Alabama 69 and Interstate 65.

E85 is a cleaner burning mix of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The fuel can be used in "flex-fuel" vehicles that are capable of running on either E85 or conventional gasoline. Most flex-fuel vehicles have an indicator near the gas cap and all have an E85 indicator contained within their vehicle identification number.

Biodiesel is produced from soybeans and other crops that produce oil, and can be used in conventional compression-ignition engines without engine modifications, such as diesels.

"Alternative fuels are not only better for our natural environment, they also help make us more energy independent," Riley said. "They open up new markets for our farmers. This is a win-win situation, and Alabamians can be proud of the steps our state is taking as America searches for a more secure, less dependent energy future."

The U.S. Department of Energy grant for $312,000 is funding alternative fuel pumps at Alabama gas stations along Interstate 65. The Department of Energy grant covers up to 50 percent of the cost for a retailer to add the infrastructure necessary to offer the alternative fuels.

Second grant

Riley said the state is receiving a second federal grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission so up to 30 service stations along Corridor X and Corridor V can offer B20 biodiesel to motorists.

The grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission will be used to provide up to $2,500 per station for modification of existing fueling infrastructure, or the purchase and installation of new fueling infrastructure dedicated to the delivery of alternative fuels.

"With record high oil prices this week, Alabama motorists will soon have the opportunity to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by having American-produced renewable fuels, E85 ethanol and B20 biodiesel, available at retail service stations in Alabama," said Mark Bentley, executive director of the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition.

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