Video: Customers gas up at fuel bank

NBC News with Brian Williams
By Kevin Tibbles Correspondent
NBC News
updated 5/3/2006 7:44:57 PM ET 2006-05-03T23:44:57

St. Cloud is a 60-mile, maybe two-gallon drive from the Twin Cities. Never heard of it?

Well, listen up: In a nation of $3 gas, St. Cloudian Larry Behrendt fills up his van for ...

"I'm paying 98 cents a gallon for my gas right now," he says.

That's under a buck!

Now we've got your attention, here's why it's so cheap. St. Cloud is home to the nation's first fuel bank.

"We have a lot of the aspects of a money bank," says First Fuel Banks' Jim Feneis. "People are making a cash deposit, but they will withdraw gas."

Customers buy gas in bulk, up front, then use a simple card each time they fill up from their reserve. The price remains fixed to the day they bought the gas.

Contractor John McDowall runs a fleet of 70 vehicles.

"Savings for us is like $150 a day for our fuel savings, which equates to about $4,500 a month," he says.

When the fuel bank opened back in 1982, the price of a gallon of gas was $1.10. Today, AAA says the national average sits at $2.92.

The mayor fills up here. So do city vehicles. It adds up to big savings for St. Cloud.

"So far it's going to amount to $50,000," says city employee Chuck Koetter.

"We currently still have 300 members that are fueling sub-$1 and literally thousands of members fueling sub-$2 per gallon," says Jim Feneis.

As gas prices skyrocket, Larry Behrendt is all of a sudden a popular guy.

"There are all kinds of people that want to borrow my card, that's for sure," he laughs.

In St. Cloud, thanks to the gas bank, they're laughing all the way to the bank.

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