December 1st marked the 100th anniversary of the opening of the first gas station in the US. It's an interesting anniversary, and ethanol advocates are using the occasion to tout the advantages of corn-based fuel, Domestic Fuel reports. The Renewable Fuels Association says Americans can save as much as a dollar a gallon using ethanol and about 65 cents a gallon (in Michigan, at least) using an 85-percent ethanol blend (aka E85). About 15.5 million US vehicles are of the flex-fuel variety, while there are about 3,200 US retailers distributing E85.

The RFA also uses the anniversary to note that E15, i.e. gasoline with a 15-percent ethanol blend, is "the most tested fuel in the history of the Environmental Protection Agency." Groups like the RFA have stepped up their efforts to support ethanol as a response to the recent EPA proposal to cut the amount of ethanol and other renewable fuels required in the annual domestic fuel supply. Ethanol supporters cite reduced foreign-oil dependency, in addition to lower refueling prices, as a reason to use the biofuel. Opponents say higher ethanol blends (higher than regular fuel, which has about 10 percent ethanol) may cause engine damage.

As for the history of gas stations in America, Pennsylvania historians cite a Gulf station in Pittsburgh as the country's first, having opened in December 1913. That first day, a gallon of fuel cost 27 cents, which is the equivalent of $6.37 today. There are about 120,000 gas stations in the US today.


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  • 21 Comments
      m_2012
      • 1 Year Ago
      They mention $1 less a gallon, but where is the "but you will also get 20% less MPG's". Let the subsidies end and let the free market figure it out - for both oil and ethanol. These technologies are mature, they dont need help anymore.
        Seth
        • 1 Year Ago
        @m_2012
        just a note on the math - if its $1 a cheaper that is 25% savings (if gas is $4). If then as you say, you see a 20% range reduction, consumers are still saving 5% overall. If gas is $3 and not $4, and you still save the $1, then the savings are even higher (net 13%)
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @m_2012
        And if subsidies were to end, like the $1/gal blender credit for biodiesel... would you risk it?
      Joeviocoe
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yeah... it seems that the FIRST GASOLINE STATION was gouging customers as well. In 1913, Gasoline was sold for $0.17 / gal.... for an inflation adjusted, $4/gallon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfg45cPY65A So basically, it is NOT that gasoline has become relatively cheaper over the last 100 years... the lesson to be learned is... brand new fueling infrastructure, costs a LOT OF MONEY, and they tend to pass those costs onto the customer. Now, what do you think the first H2 stations are going to charge per kg? Will it be the optimistic prices currently being speculated by Oil/Gas companies and the DOE? Or will it be more like 60% higher costs, as was witnessed in the first gasoline stations?
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        and some pretty charts from 1919 thru 2012: http://www.energytrendsinsider.com/2012/02/27/how-high-have-gas-prices-risen-over-the-years/
        Marcopolo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        @ Joeviocoe, " So basically, it is NOT that gasoline has become relatively cheaper over the last 100 years" In 1913, the was no uniform price (or grade) for gasoline, so prices varied widely. At $0.27 inflation adjusted $ 6.37, the price of gasoline has halved ! Even on your estimate, today's price of $ 3.29 per gal in Pittsburgh is 25% cheaper for a vastly improved product. Sort of makes your entire theory nonsense, doesn't it ? ! Joe, see modern business far to simplistically. Wealth is created by perception, not arithmetically. Australia has 4300 LPG stations, (cheaper to build than H2, but a more sparsely populated continent), these were rolled out in 3 years, without affecting the price. What you don't seem to grasp about refuelling infrastructure, is that the moment the site receives building approval, the site becomes a valuable asset. Unlike other building projects, the site automatically has a well paying tenant, and the landlord can sell the franchise, as well as enjoying the ongoing revenue from the sale of H2. In addition, the value of the site has increased dramatically, meaning the landlord/developer can resell or refinance, or even hive off the asset into a new public company, retaining control, but recovering the initial outlay. tax breaks, and depreciation allowances will make this procedure even more profitable. In addition, the promoters can gain extra value by investing in those companies who will gain the contracts for building/manufacturing the infrastructure. Major corporations, like oil companies have well established resources to make the most of these projects, as do their bankers. Competition between the rival retailers, ensures the customer gets a competitive price.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Marcopolo
          We'll see what happens Marco. I am betting that the U.S. H2 infrastructure will NOT see anything like LPG adoption in Australia.... but more like LPG/CNG adoption in, well, the U.S. That is to say... slow, and relegated to niches and some fleet use. For personal vehicles.... in 1913, going to gasoline was a natural step up from riding horses. H2 won't be able to justify its existence to individual drivers. CNG/LPG is cleaner and cheaper to run than gasoline... (and the vehicles aren't too expensive either)... but they aren't so cheap as to justify switching to a sparse infrastructure. Which is why they have not been accepted by the masses... unless you have fleet managers who can control where and how they fuel.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Marcopolo
          --"I'm not a fan of H2 either, I think it's a technology that's probably appeared too late" No, EV and FCV tech was here at the same time. Do you not remember what ABG was all about 6 years ago?? There were just as many 'prototype' Hydrogen articles as there were 'prototype' EV articles. Most of the ABG audience was split between the two. But we both know what happened. H2 suffers from an economic Chicken and Egg paradox, and has been limited to mostly idle talk. While EVs, could be started based on technology finally getting better batteries... and without having to 'wait' for infrastructure first. It seems that oil companies are waiting for governments to provide more than "aid" for the infrastructure... they seem to expect government to pay for the BULK of the costs. But you seem to be understanding, the crux of the paradox that will continue to prevent FCVs from coming as promised.
          Marcopolo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Marcopolo
          @ Joeviocoe I'm not a fan of H2 either, I think it's a technology that's probably appeared too late. The rapid advance and convenience of EV ESD's, will make H2 uncompetitive. Even the availability of cheaper natural gas, will not necessarily advantage H2 production but electricity generation. But, i do think that if the oil companies became convinced that H2 vehicles were viable (as in Shells criteria) then Shell and the other oil companies would roll out the infrastructure, with the aid of governments, and even subsidise vehicle production. But FCV vehicles are still too expensive etc.
        EZEE2
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        Those b*stards back in 1913, what with their bikes with big giant front wheels, and their mustache's with the curls!
          EZEE2
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EZEE2
          :D I was so joking, but thanks for the info. Good stuff! :)
          JB
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EZEE2
          Riding a "Penny Farthing" (Big front wheel bicycle) in 1913 would be very retro. The Penny Farthing was obsolete in the 1880 when the "Safety Bicycle" came on the scene. FYI, paved the way -figuratively and literally- for the automobile with its technology (chain drive, pneumatic tires, lightweight steel tubing, ball bearings differentials) AND with lobbying by bicyclists for paved roads. Check out the Good Roads Movement.
      Marcopolo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Good ol' Danny King, the RFA's best friend ! The RFA, (and Danny King) is desperate to portray it's fight for existence, as a fight between everyone's favourite bad guy, the oil industry, and nice clean eco-friendly, corn-Ethanol. In truth, the oil industry is not alone in it's fight against ethanol, a product so unpopular it's customers are forced to use it by government mandate ! Nor is Ethanol cheap, it fact, it's absurdly uneconomic. But the biggest lie told by the RFA, is that icorn-Ethanol production is eco-friendly ! Every major Environment group and scientific expert, including the EPA, UN, and even Al Gore, is calling for the discontinuation of US corn-ethanol on environmental and humanitarian grounds. Just end the mandate, and let the consumer decide.
      Technoir
      • 1 Year Ago
      A century of environmental destruction...how sad.
      Nick Kordich
      • 1 Year Ago
      I believe the 120,000 number is based on the 2007 Census: http://thedataweb.rm.census.gov/TheDataWeb_HotReport2/econsnapshot/snapshot.hrml?NAICS=447 The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a different set of numbers: 105,957 for 2007 and 105,097 for the data so far this year. I don't know why there's a discrepancy of about 14,000 establishments. Only private stations are included in the BLS data, but only about a hundred stations are operated by government agencies (not including military fuel depots, of course). http://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag447.htm#workplace_trends http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/ENUUS000205447?data_tool=XGtable
      goodoldgorr
      • 1 Year Ago
      Im on 4 green car website since years and i never heard of mpg differential study between pure gasoline and e10 , e15 and e85. theoricaly ethanol give less mpg, is it considered in the price. I heard that it is damaging to boat that sit long time in humidity.
      CoolWaters
      • 1 Year Ago
      Which brings up the question, when will oil subsidies end? This is 100 YEARS already. Will Oil Subsidies end only AFTER No One Uses Oil?
        EZEE2
        • 1 Year Ago
        @CoolWaters
        Nooooooo As the great Renaldous Magnus once said: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. So if we STOPPED using oil, liberals would want to subsidize it, saying that we have to preserve the jobs and great traditions, then in the audience, a woman would jump up, with her hands to her cheeks and scream, 'won't someone think of the children!' MSNBC would not that a higher percentage of minorities work in the oil fields, as well as poor in other countries, and to oppose the new oil funding bill would be racist. You know this would be what would happen....deep down....you know it.
          EZEE2
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EZEE2
          I did not post that twice.
      Joeviocoe
      • 1 Year Ago
      Here is a better article (with some interesting stats on the fueling industry): http://www.csdecisions.com/2013/11/26/modern-gas-station-celebrates-100-years/
      EZEE2
      • 1 Year Ago
      Honest question for people who know more about this stuff (Grendel) than me. When evil George Bush (booooo) started all of the incentives for EV's and alt fuels, he threw out ideas on other ethanol sources, such as switch grass. Whenever one of these articles comes out, everyone screams about how corn sucks ass. What about those other sources? Do they s*ck ass too? Oh wait - I think Rak has commented on stuff like that as well. Rak? I have no agenda here, I am just curious, so any answer, positive or negative is fine. Thanks! :-)
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