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    New York Gas Stations Can Skirt Fuel Contracts

    New bill allows stations to look outside current distributors for alternative fuels.

    ALBANY, N.Y. -- Governor George Pataki has passed a bill that permits gas station owners to break "exclusivity" contracts between stations and fuel distributors in order to bring alternative fuels to the stations, reported the Business Review.

    The law is an effort to break stations free of the long-term contracts that bind them to fuel distributors. In the past, if the supplier did not provide alternative fuels, there was no way for the stations to offer it to customers, the report stated.

    Senate Bill 8124 -- signed by Pataki on July 31 -- makes alternative fuels exempt from future contracts, limiting the sources that stations can get their fuels.

    But some feel this law will have little impact. Ralph Bombardier, executive director of the New York State Association of Service Stations and Repair Shops which represents 3,500 station owners, told the Business Review that with only 200,000 alternative fuel vehicles on the road, the market for such fuels is low. He added that the bill is mostly politics on the official's part.

    Most stations have three-year contracts with suppliers, so future contracts and E85 pumps would not be available for some time, even if station owners wanted to install them, Bombardier continued.

    However, some plan to have provisions set up earlier. Campus Mobil's owner, Christian King, plans to install a tank and pump by Thanksgiving, even though his 10-year contract with ExxonMobil is still in effect. King told the Business Review that he has gotten a verbal "Ok" to sell E85 fuel.

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