The U.S. Department of Energy, now headed by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu, has rolled out an “Alternative Fueling Station Locator.” In other words, if you’re driving a vehicle that runs on biodiesel, electricity, ethanol, hydrogen, natural gas or propane, this tool can help you find it .
The locator uses Google Maps and works with cell phones, Blackberrys and PDAs.
The locator looks pretty “bare bones” at first. But type in a ZIP code or city and state, then select a fuel, and it gives you dots on a map and a list of stations. Depending on what you select, you’ll see what’s lacking when it comes to alternative fuel infrastructure in the U.S.
For instance, there are a five places to fill up on biodiesel listed in Northern Michigan, and zero for hydrogen. Check out your city and state to see what pops up.
The locator isn’t perfect. It listed a site in California during a search for “electric” in Northern Michigan. So it behooves travelers to call ahead, and check out resources from trade organizations like the National Biodiesel Board and the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition.