The Solar-Powered Gas Station   Leave a comment

I had to get gas today, and when the low fuel warning sounded I was driving home from a work site. This morning I had looked at the fuel gauge and figured that I could make it to Saturday morning and get gas when we go to the farmer’s market, so I was really bummed when I had to do some extra driving for work and therefore ran low on gas quicker than expected. The reason I was bummed wasn’t the inconvenience of having to stop to get gas. I knew that I would pass a convenient gas station on my way home. The reason for my disappointment was the fact that I would not be able to go to my usual gas station.

Several years ago I put some thought into the process of putting gas in my car. What is the most responsible way of doing this chore? An organization that I trust published a ranking of major oil companies and I used that as my rationale for picking a gas station from one of companies on the top of the list (by top I mean it did’t get straight F’s). I’ve seen several more such rankings since then, including the updated ranking by Green America, and one thing I can tell you is that they are pretty worthless. For one thing, depending on how different factors (environment, human rights, heath & safety, governance, etc.) are weighted and when the ranking was done, each ranking system ends up with completely different results. This seems to be a bigger problem with the oil industry than with other industries. A second issue is the scores: is a company that scores a D really better than the one that got an F? Oil companies rank so poorly in every category in every ranking system that I’ve seen, that you really can’t pick a good option.

I still use the same oil company as my primary source of fuel, but my reasons have changed. One reason is to make my life easier when I log my receipts into Quicken. I usually to go one gas company and my husband usually goes to another, so when I start typing in the name of the gas station Quicken autofills the category and the notation of which vehicle, therefore making the entry of receipts a little smoother. But the biggest reason, the reason that I was disappointed today at having to go a different gas station, is because MY gas station has solar panels on the roof. (You can see them in Google Earth or Maps: the northwest corner of the intersection of White Rock Rd and Sunrise Blvd in Rancho Cordova, CA.) When they installed the solar panels a couple of years ago, that station became my number one choice for fueling up my car. It’s not a particularly convenient location, but it’s sort of on my way to work, so I try to plan all gas ups to happen when driving to work. I do this because I want to support this gas station owner. I think it was an awesome decision to install the solar panels and I would rather my money go to him than some other owner. So when it comes down to it, I am supporting the owner of that particular station and not the franchising oil company.

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Posted April 2, 2010 by mayakey in environment, shopping

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