Washington state authorizes mobile fueling; legislator calls it ‘timely’ as residents practice social distancing

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Booster Fuels’ signature purple mini tanker. (Booster Fuels Photo)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law this week that makes it easier for companies to provide mobile fueling in the state. The legislation helps companies such as Booster Fuels expand their on-demand fueling service throughout Washington.

The nascent mobile fueling industry brings mini oil tankers to customer vehicles, wherever they are, and fills them up on the spot. Booster Fuels, a Bay Area startup with Seattle roots, said the new law will help the sector grow in Washington at a critical time.

Booster Fuels CEO Frank Mycroft. (Booster Fuels Photo)

“This is a rare example of industry and regulators working together towards a common-sense approach, and comes just in time to respond to a public health crisis,” said Booster CEO Frank Mycroft in a statement.

The legislation streamlines permitting for mobile fueling companies. Rather than applying to operate in each city in Washington, the law allows for the creation of a statewide permit.

Mobile fueling companies have had to navigate regulatory hurdles in Washington and elsewhere. Booster competitor Filld had to shut down service in Seattle because it wasn’t authorized to provide fuel directly to customers on Seattle streets.

Booster gets around those rules by partnering with employers and fueling up employee vehicles in private parking lots. The 4-year-old company launched a commercial fleet service in Seattle last fall. The new law will make it easier to eventually provide direct-to-consumer service, according to Joe Okpaku, Booster’s chief policy officer. It doesn’t allow for on-street fueling but does make it easier to provide that service in parking lots throughout the state.

“Booster’s core business model will remain the same, in terms of delivering fuel as [a] business perk through a relationship with a company … however, at times like these, we are experimenting with creative ways to deliver fuel to help the community,” he said.

The law doesn’t take effect until June 10, but Okpaku said it already sends a signal to local jurisdictions that might be reticent to allow mobile fueling.

Mycroft said Booster wants to be a resource for Washington residents practicing social distancing amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Booster has provided mobile fueling services in other crises, including Hurricane Harvey and the Northern California blackouts last year.

“We hope to be of service to the state of Washington as we have to our past communities during times of crisis,” Mycroft said. “I encourage anyone who might need our services for their employees, first responders or citizens to reach out.”

Booster Fuels has raised nearly $90 million from a number of investors, including Seattle venture capital firms Madrona Venture Group, Vulcan Capital, and Maveron. A former Boeing Engineer, Mycroft founded the startup in Seattle before relocating it to the Bay Area.

Washington state Rep. Dan Griffey sponsored the legislation and said it “will give Washington another opportunity for business growth,” in a statement.

“It’s also very timely, as safety measures due to COVID-19 continue to increase,” he said. “Mobile fueling provides another way for people to avoid going out in public, but still have the resources they need to function.”

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