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Unless you’re a hardcore biofuel fan, chances are you’ve probably never actually pumped the alternative stuff. But in case you do and you’re out searching for a public E85 station on your cell phone or computer, Nevada City-based mobile app and web company WHDC just launched a location-based E85 finder service called NearE85.com
OK, so it doesn’t do much good say if you live in Cali, which NearE85 lists has having only 1 public E85 station in the state. But hey it’s a start. WHDC also already offers NearBio.com for finding biodiesel locations and NeedBio.com a site for biofuel demand.
WHDC cofounder Lisa Hull tells us that NearBio averages around 300-400 queries per day for locations on the website, and about 50 requests per day from the cell phones for locations and directions — not bad for an 8-month old service. You can also find a web-based Alternative Fueling Station Locator, run by the Department of Energy.
We’ve checked out the NearBio mobile service over the Where.com GPS application . We’re Where.com fans, and the NearBio service worked pretty well, though mobile users can also use the mobile Internet and text services.
NearE85.com says there are currently 1077 E85 stations across the U.S., which provide the blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gas that can be used by flex fuel vehicles. Given new stations with E85 are opening all the time, it’s a bit surprising that there’s only 1 listed for the site in Cali.
We chatted with the California Air Resources Board spokesperson Gennet Paauwe, whose organization helps oversees the E85 certification process, and she said there are “less than 10 public E85 fueling stations operating in California right now,” because sites have to get approved for a certain type of vapor recovery equipment which is still in the experimental stage.
“We’re not trying to be difficult, but we have to control air quality problems,” Paauwe says.
On the NearBio blog, the company writes:
The interesting thing we spotted is that E85 availability is much more regional than biodiesel. The fact that California only has 1 station is rather alarming!
Maybe sites like NearE85 can help by getting people educated on the process and availability.