At Propel’s clean fuel stations, drivers can ‘fill ’er up!’

May 31, 2016
In Fullerton, Calif., Propel Fuels took an old, rundown gas station and turned it into a modern filling station that sells clean, renewable fuels. (Propel photo)

In Fullerton, Calif., Propel Fuels took an old, rundown gas station and turned it into a modern filling station that sells clean, renewable fuels. (Propel photo)

Editor’s note: This is an edited and updated version of a company profile that originally appeared on E2’s Fueling Growth website.

An old Valero gas station stood for years at a busy intersection in Fullerton, Calif. Across the street from a leafy park and next door to a shopping center, this rundown station pumped the only kind of fuel Californians have ever really known – petroleum-based fuels.

In 2012, however, the old filling station was sold to a California-based renewable fuel retailer called Propel Fuels.

At the intersection of Chapman and Raymond avenues, things began to change.

Propel hired architects and construction workers to transform the station. The site was reinvented as a modern “Clean Mobility Center,” and now drivers in all sorts of different vehicles can fill up on fuels like E85 Flex Fuel, or biodiesel sourced from domestic, renewable resources.

This is a significant development for Fullerton’s drivers. But it’s actually just a small part of a much larger shift happening in California. Thanks to policies like the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, or LCFS, and Gov. Jerry Brown’s 40-percent carbon reduction by 2030, drivers across the state are finally getting a real choice at the pump.

Petroleum’s century-old filling station monopoly is breaking up, and California’s economy is growing. “We have had 10 consecutive growth months in volumes,” Propel CEO Rob Elam told Biofuels Digest in 2015, referring to all of Propels outlets.

The Fullerton station alone has cut CO2 emissions by well over 5 million pounds and counting. It’s just one of a few dozen bright-green-and-white Propel stations located in California, the world’s third-largest fuel market.

According to Elam, Propel has recently had a 13-cent price advantage in diesel compared to competitors. A big reason for that? Policies like the LCFS.

“One thing that is great is the level of certainty around these programs is much better,” Elam told Biofuel Digest.

Originally based in Seattle, Propel moved its headquarters to California in 2008. The company was attracted by policies like the LCFS. The LCFS states that California’s biggest polluters must cut carbon pollution by 10 percent by 2020.

In addition to helping cut emissions and generating investment in California, Propel puts people to work. As of 2013, the company had 20 full-time employees working in jobs like marketing, fuel supply logistics, permitting, real estate and customer service.

Propel’s staff has helped more than 10,000 consumers move away from fossil fuels. The opportunity to choose what type of fuel you want to put in your vehicle has created a loyal customer base that includes everyone from mothers in minivans to construction workers in pickups. Propel’s customers have even built up a grassroots social media community.

–Environmental Entrepreneurs

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