E85’s California Expansion

Pearson Fuels, G&M Oil to open 13 sites in 13 months

G&M Oil Pearson Fuels E85 alternative fuels (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores / Gas Stations)

CALIMESA, Calif. – Consider it an E85 baker’s dozen.

Last week, ethanol distributor Pearson Fuels and gas-station and convenience-store retailer G&M Oil held a grand opening and ribbon cutting at the first of the partnership’s 13 E85 sites set to open over the next 13 months. The site, located at a G&M Food Mart in Calimesa, Calif., sold E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline blend) for 85 cents per gallon and offered in-store specials to celebrate the event.

All of the 13 E85 sites Pearson Fuels and G&M Oil open will be in Southern California--in San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties.

“We have sold E85 flex fuel at four of our locations for several years and are happy with the results,” said Julie Jackson, senior vice president at G&M Oil, Huntington Beach, Calif., which has more than 140 G&M Food Mart private-branded sites as well as Chevron-branded Extra Mile stores throughout Southern California.

“We are confident based on our experience with E85 so far that the public will embrace these new E85 locations and we are excited to continue our leadership in the industry by showing that these sites can be converted quickly and safely so the public can have a new fuel choice throughout our market area,” she said.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), California is among a group of states that greatly expanded the number of E85 fueling locations over the years. It went from having fewer than 10 of the sites in 2007 to more than 80 by 2013. California has about one million flex-fuel vehicles, which can use gasoline blends of up to 85% ethanol.

Pearson Fuels is a San Diego-based ethanol distributor that specializes in developing alternative fuel infrastructure and distribution. In 2003, it opened the first E85 fueling site in California. In March, it partnered with All Stars Fuel to open the first E85 site in San Francisco. Its collaboration with G&M greatly ramps up the pace of expansion in California.

“We have been opening these E85 sites one and two at a time for years but it is a whole new level to declare our plans to open 13 sites in 13 months,” said Mike Lewis, general manager at Pearson Fuels.

“This confidence comes in no small part due to the partner we have with G&M Oil Co.,” he continued. “Their story of growing from one gas station to becoming one of California’s largest independently owned retail fuel station owners is the kind of growth story we want to be telling about Pearson Fuels one day.”

Lewis added that E85 burns cleaner than gasoline, is renewable, domestically produced and selling right now at a large discount to gasoline. According to E85prices.com, there is currently a 20% spread between E85 and regular gasoline. The biofuel was selling for $2.61 per gallon as of April 15, compared to $3.25 per gallon for gasoline.

“Literally thousands of E85 compatible flex-fuel vehicles drive by on the freeway beside this station every day and now they have a convenient location to save money and reduce their tailpipe emissions with this inexpensive, clean, renewable fuel,” Lewis said.

The California Energy Commission’s Alternative & Renewable Fuel & Vehicle Technology Program provided some funding for the E85 sites, which G&M Oil and Pearson matched.

Part of CSP's 2015 Convenience Top 101 retailers