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LANSING, Mich. – Independent convenience stores owners may pave the way for integrating ethanol pumps into gas stations nationwide. A bill that was approved by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee outlines a program that will make grants up to $60,000 available for any independent c-store owners looking to integrate the alternative fuel into their station.
The bill, if signed by the president, could be available this year, Sylvia Warner, press secretary for the bill's U.S. Representative Mike Roger, told CSNews Online. It specifies that only independent stations can apply for the grants, ensuring that no money goes into big oil company's pockets. Warner told CSNews Online that Rep. Rogers' bill has received "very positive reception" from independent c-store owners.
The allocation of the grants will be handled by the Department of Energy's Clean Cities Program.
Individual gas stations can receive up to $30,000 to install one pump. Independent stores with more than one location can receive up to $60,000, said Warner. The cost to install the pump will vary by location, as stations might need to "tear up the pavement," she added.
According to Warner, the money will come from fined automakers who do not conform to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy's (CAFE) regulations on fuel economy. Currently the fines paid by automakers go into the general funds, she said. CAFE requires that passenger vehicles must get an average of 27.5 miles per gallon.
"The bulk is paid by foreign automakers -- they do not meet U.S. standards," Warner told CSNews Online.
Although the amount varies, fines averages $20 million a year, which would fund the installation of 600 ethanol pumps and double the current amount of pumps in the U.S. said Warner.
Warner told CSNews Online that there are more than 5 million vehicles able to run on the ethanol gas and 92 refineries able to produce that gas. "We have the vehicles, we have the refineries, we just need the distribution," said Warner.