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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    SafeRide adjusts to using alternative fuel

    Ben Simms is spending more quality time with his minivan lately, standing at the gas pump watching the numbers tick by.

    Simms is a SafeRide driver who, along with other university employees, is adjusting to the UA’s recent move to ethanol fuel.

    A ribbon-cutting ceremony at the UA motor pool’s new 4,000-gallon tank last week celebrated the changes.

    The environmentally-friendly fuel burns cleaner than regular gasoline but is less efficient, according to SafeRide employees.

    “”It’s a little more inconvenient having to fill up every night, and I’m not sure if it’s saving us that much money,”” said Simms, a geography junior.

    SafeRide currently has two minivans out of its six-car force that are E85 compliant.

    Anthony Genovese, assistant director of SafeRide, said so far, the “”biggest effect seems to be that E85 is 25 percent less efficient, so we have to fill up more.””

    Cost differences between E85 and gasoline have also been a factor.

    Genovese said the major drawback is E85 costs about 20 cents more per gallon and is 25 percent less efficient, based on last week’s prices.

    Last week, E85 was $2.53 per gallon at the UA motor pool versus $2.15 per gallon for regular gasoline.

    Yesterday, however, E85 dropped to $2.18 per gallon while gasoline stayed the same.

    The motor pool, 1597 E. 16th St., sells fuel at a discounted price to employees who drive university vehicles.

    “”It has hurt us a little bit because we get about three-quarters the gas mileage we did before,”” said SafeRide administrative director Eric Bareiss.

    Bareiss said the motor pool assigned them an E85-only gas card at the beginning of this semester, so they didn’t really have a choice to use gasoline in the vans anymore.

    This latest alternative-fuel venture is working out better than previous tries, though, specifically the old compressed natural gas Ford Contour, Bareiss said.

    “”There was nowhere to fill up the CNG car,”” he said. “”The closest fill-up station was six miles away.””

    SafeRide is one of the many university services that use vehicles from the motor pool’s fleet of 120.

    Thirty of these are “”flex fuel”” vehicles, meaning they have the ability to run off either gasoline or E85, according to a Facilities Management report.

    Despite the initial woe of having to fill up their tanks every day instead of every other day, Bareiss said he is optimistic about using alternative fuels to help the environment.

    “”In the end, if we have to sacrifice a little bit for everyone to be better off, then that’s a good thing,”” he said.

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