Airmail: Why not offer alternative fuel at pump?

  • Published
  • By Col. Robert E. Suminsby Jr.
  • 377th Air Base Wing Commander
Q. I would like to suggest that Kirtland AFB and AAFES take the lead in our community and offer E85 fuel, commonly known as ethanol, at the base service station, and possibly biodiesel as well.

I think the base could use its infrastructure and its patriotic early-adopter populous to encourage availability, education and usage throughout the community.

The time is now; local car dealers' lots are full of flexfuel-capable vehicles, with more being produced every month. Unfortunately, there's only one public station in Albuquerque that offers E85 so the price is uncontested.

Sandia National Laboratories is listed as a private source in the area, so it could be that the infrastructure already exists on base.

E85 fuel is clean, renewable, made in America and supports American agriculture and investment. Someone has to lead ... who better than us?

P.S. Fort Brag is doing it!

A. Although AAFES does offer E85 at a select few exchanges around the continental U.S. we do not have enough demand at the Kirtland exchange to justify the expense of adding E85 tanks and dispensers.

The E85 fuel supply is spotty and very limited at this time, and must be trucked or freighted in by rail instead of being shipped on the pipeline.

Because E85 is a highly corrosive fuel, there's no equipment certified by Underwriters Laboratories available, so AAFES would have to sign an indemnity and hold harmless clause with a dispenser manufacturer. The installation Fire Marshall would also have to provide written authorization to install equipment that is not UL certified.

However, if demographics change and E85 or biodiesel fuel usage becomes more prominent in the local area and more advanced technology and equipment becomes available, AAFES would consider offering it at their gasoline stations.