The decision of the state's major methanol supplier to adjust the price of methanol fuel to that of regular unleaded gasoline effective January 1 this year is an added bonus for drivers of Flexible Fuel Vehicles or FFVs, says Energy Commission Executive Director Stephen Rhoads. "The price adjustment and the new stations highlight the economic and environmental benefits that methanol has to offer," Rhoads added. Methanol fueling stations dispense M-85, a blend of 85% methanol and 15% unleaded gasoline. Typically, methanol is used by FFVs that run on M-85, gasoline or any mixture of the two fuels in the same fuel tank. Today, there are over 14,000 methanol FFVs on California highways, mostly operated by government, corporate and rental fleets.
Although it has a lower energy content, methanol burns more cleanly and efficiently than gasoline. It takes about 1.6 gallons of M-85 to provide the same vehicle range as a gallon of gasoline. On an energy equivalent basis, the actual cost of methanol fuel in the past has been in the range of premium gasoline blends. With the methanol price adjustment, drivers of FFVs are getting the value and performance of unleaded premium gas for the price of regular unleaded.
Retail methanol stations obtain their M-85 through the California Fuel Methanol Reserve operated by the Energy Commission. The principal supplier to the reserve, Methanex Methanol Company of Dallas, Texas, agreed to a price adjustment after factoring the energy content difference.
The Commission has informed M-85 retailers of the new pricing policy and is hopeful that any price discounts will be passed along to the consumers.
The price adjustment results from the efforts of the Commission, the American Methanol Institute and Methanex to bolster the M-85 market and increase sales volume through the retail network.
The methanol fueling infrastructure from San Diego to Sacramento was established by the Energy Commission in cooperation with major gasoline retailers to serve the growing number of FFVs in the state.
In addition to the 55 public methanol stations, more than 50 private stations are operated in California. Outside the state, there are 40 methanol fueling stations in 14 states and Canada.
The new fueling stations are located at:
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