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SAN ANTONIO -- H.E. Butt Grocery Co. here is planning to offer an alternative fuel to the more than 450,000 Texas drivers who own flex-fuel vehicles, starting with five fuel sites along IH-35, stretching from here to Waco. It expects the program to be operational before the end of the summer, and said more sites will eventually follow suit.
The chain said it will give drivers of flex-fuel vehicles the chance to buy E-85, a renewable and domestically produced alternative fuel. E-85 is a blended fuel comprised of 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent ethanol, which is produced from corn and other grain products grown in the United States. HEB said its offering of this alternative fuel means Texas motorists can reduce their dependence on foreign oil.
"We have deep Texas roots and an unwavering commitment to doing what's right for our customers, and they've made it clear they want an alternative to foreign oil," said James Aulds, HEB's v.p. of petroleum marketing, in a statement. "Our customers will also appreciate the fact that E-85 is less expensive and cleaner burning than traditional gasoline."
The grocer said it strategically chose the five sites located along IH-35, the main artery that runs from Mexico to Canada, in order to offer E-85 to as many Texas drivers as possible. HEB also picked the sites for their proximity to major fleet operations, including the Texas Department of Transportation and the U.S Army's Fort Hood.
The locations are HEB stores already equipped with gas stations, in Schertz, Buda, Austin, Killeen, and Waco. The chain is re-fitting the sites with special underground tanks and new dispensers specially designed for E-85.
E-85 can be as much as 30 cents per gallon less expensive than unleaded gasoline, said HEB. According to the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, E-85 has the highest oxygen content of any transportation fuel, making it burn cleaner than gasoline with as much as 39 to 46 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide.
The company is also planning an educational and promotional campaign to inform customers about the benefits of E-85 and how it works with flex-fuel vehicles. More than 450,000 Texas drivers already own flex-fuel vehicles but don't have the opportunity to benefit from the advantages of using E-85, because the fuel is not yet widespread in Texas, it noted.
"This is only the beginning for E-85 at HEB," Aulds said. "We're seeing enormous support for this decision and already getting strong signals about customer demand. We're committed to leading the way in serving this market."