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New alternative fuels station opens in Fullerton

The Propel Clean Mobility Center on Chapman Avenue offers gasoline as well as E85 ethanol and biodiesel.

May 17, 2012|By Susan Carpenter, Los Angeles Times
  • The Propel Clean Mobility Center at 1124 E. Chapman Ave., which opened Wednesday, was partially funded by grants from the California Energy Commission and the U.S. Energy Department.
The Propel Clean Mobility Center at 1124 E. Chapman Ave., which opened Wednesday,… (Propel Inc. )

A gas station that also offers E85 ethanol and biodiesel fuels has opened in Fullerton, becoming the first of more than 200 so-called clean mobility centers slated for the state.

The Propel Clean Mobility Center at 1124 E. Chapman Ave., which opened Wednesday, was partially funded by grants from the California Energy Commission and the U.S. Energy Department.

"People are looking for alternatives. They're looking for transportation options that aren't dependent on petroleum," said Matt Horton, chief executive of Propel Fuels in Redwood City, Calif., which at its new Fullerton station also offers a self-service bicycle repair station, recycling containers, free air and water, and maps of rail stations, bike paths and busways.

Horton hopes to add electric-vehicle charging stations, as well as natural-gas and hydrogen pumps, to Clean Mobility Centers in communities that are adopting those types of alternative-fuel vehicles. Horton said Propel analyzes vehicle registrations, traffic patterns and demographics to determine what types of fuel to make available.

"Fuel choices are going to continue to change for many years," Horton said. "The mix of vehicles available and consumer preferences will change over time."

There are 16 pumps at the Fullerton station, eight of which are for gasoline. The four pumps for E85 are yellow and topped with a sign that lists all the cars that are flex-fuel compatible. The four pumps for biodiesel are green and evenly split between fuel made with either 5% and 20% recycled vegetable oil.

The company also has a buy-local philosophy. Horton said Propel makes the E85 and biodiesel it sells and often sources the ethanol it uses in its blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline from California producers. Its biodiesel often comes from local companies recycling base oils from restaurants.

Every pump is also marked with an 800 phone number staffed with a customer service representative to answer questions.

"We view these centers as an educational opportunity," Horton said.

Additional signage at the Clean Mobility Center's regular gas pumps give drivers the option to donate $1 of their fuel transactions to clean air projects that offset the carbon associated with their refueling.

Jamie Caissie, a 35-year-old flooring contractor, decided to try something new and filled up his GMC Sierra truck with E85 at the Fullerton station.

"My truck says it can take flex fuel, and it's 70 cents cheaper," said Caissie, who lives in Fullerton and often travels to San Diego and Northern California for work.

susan.carpenter@latimes.com

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