Photo of Bp Owen Rd - Fenton, MI, United States. Overall view of the station, facing northwest. Taco Bell and McDonalds to the right of the shot.

The inquiry most frequently posed by neophyte ethanol users to me for recommendation is from where should they purchase ethanol for their vehicle. When I purchased my Chevrolet Suburban five years ago, there were only two gas stations (both branded Meijer) that sold ethanol within Saginaw County. Even more disheartening was that both stations would price ethanol no more than thirty cents per gallon less than that for gasoline. Both factors combined to initially discourage drivers like myself from buying ethanol and supporting this nation’s effort to free ourselves from dependence upon foreign oil.

While traveling from Toledo back home to Saginaw one warm summer evening, I exited off US-23 onto Owen Road outside the city of Fenton in pursuit of a cold Pepsi. Entering the expansive lot of the BP gas station on the left, I noticed the E-85 ethanol logo on the marquee sign and was rendered hopeful. Inquisition transitioned into euphoria upon observing that ethanol was priced exactly one dollar less per gallon than the price of gasoline. Not surprisingly, my Suburban was soon situated beside one of two pumps designated to dispense ethanol.

At this location, there is an on-site automatic car wash with two bays: one for soft-cloth cleaning and the other for touchless cleaning. Regardless of methodology, customers who purchased a car wash received a fifteen cent per gallon discount off their fuel purchase, including diesel fuel and ethanol. To the right of the cashier’s table were neatly stacked pamphlets introducing new ethanol users to the Yellow Hose initiative sponsored by Carbon Green Bio Energy, an ethanol refinery and supplier based in Lake Odessa. The pamphlet informed consumers of every year, model, and make of vehicle offering flexible fuel capability as well as a list of all gas stations in Michigan where ethanol was available for purchase.

While refueling the Suburban, I was so impressed with the amount of money saved using ethanol that I decided to utilize ethanol rather than gasoline. I establish a weekly ritual of returning to this location to fill my tank with ethanol, immerse my vehicle in a touchless car wash, and still have enough change remaining from fifty dollars to enjoy a combination meal from the Taco Bell restaurant next door. Saving $25 (and sometimes $30) per weekly fill-up more than validated the fifty-mile drive from Saginaw to Fenton.

Upon sharing the details of this episode with others, most are amazed that such a large vehicle could be fueled for so little money. Affirming that if they operated a similar vehicle, they would also travel a similar distance to save money fueling with ethanol. And I constantly encourage them for future refueling to see yellow and save green!