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LAS VEGAS — 2015 has not been the most active year for alternative fuels considering prices at the pump remain low on a historical basis. With prices below $2 per gallon for regular gasoline in many areas of the country, consumer demand for alternative fuels has not maintained the fever pitch reached a couple of years ago.
Still, the movement away from traditional E10 petroleum to compressed natural gas (CNG), electric and higher blends of ethanol like E85 and E15 continues to advance, with many manufacturers promoting such products on the 2015 NACS Show expo floor.
The future of alternative fuels was spiritedly discussed during a NACS Show educational session aptly titled “Building the Infrastructure for Future Fuels.” According to the panelists, retailers need to diversify their fuel offerings, not because alternative fuels are moving quickly to replace traditional gasoline and diesel fuel, but rather because government policies and continued fears of climate change from carbon dioxide emissions make the growth of alternative fuels inevitable.
Jay Ricker, chairman of Indiana-based Ricker Oil Co. and chair of NACS’ The Fuels Institute, noted that exploring future fuels is easier when the investment is underwritten by someone else.
Ricker was joined in the session by Scott Minton, CNG market developer for convenience store retailer OnCue Express, who said CNG offers several benefits that make it a good investment for the future. “CNG offers price stability and you need to be ready when the price of gas goes up again,” he explained. “My price of CNG hasn’t changed a penny in 18 months.”
Out on the show floor, E15, a blend of 15-percent ethanol and 85-percent gasoline approved for use in 2001 and newer vehicles, was a hot topic among exhibiting companies. More than 100 convenience stores already offer E15 at the pump, with this number likely to double by the end of 2016.
For more insights gained from the 2015 NACS Show expo floor, look in the November issue of Convenience Store News.