Local News

Alternative Fuel Seen as Tough Sell in Triangle

Posted December 26, 2006 7:21 p.m. EST

Alternative fuels are getting a rough reception at the pump in the Triangle.

Supporters of alternative fuel claim ethanol-based fuels like E-85 are the way of the future and a solution to dependence on foreign oil. Critics, however, contend corn-based fuel gets lower mileage and need more work before they're seen as a viable solution.

A Triangle-area gas station owner said he was recently offered a $25,000 grant from the Triangle J Council of Governments to install one E-85 pump. The owner turned down the money, saying the alternative pump would not draw enough customers.

One thing that might attract customers is the price. At the Triangle's only E-85 station, off Highway 55 in Durham, the price is $1.99 a gallon for the alternative fuel. However, even backers claim they have a long way to go.

Tobin Freid, Triangle J's project coordinator for air and energy, led an unsuccessful effort to get a southeast Raleigh Exxon station to take the E-85 grant. Now, there's a new push.

"My goal is to get an E-85 station in downtown Raleigh by the end of 2007," he said.

Aside from the Durham E-85 station, the nearest place for Triangle drivers to get the alternative fuel is Southern Pines.