The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Biodiesel Powers More Fleets Than Ever

April 2008, by Brendan Prebo

Some mornings, the weather is so cold that equipment operators in Keene, N.H., are chilled to the bone. Temperatures can drop as low as 50 degrees below zero, but according to Steve Russell, fleet services superintendent, the cold doesn’t affect the city’s snow plows, fire and rescue vehicles, and other equipment running on a blend of biodiesel.

“We know we can rely on our biodiesel-powered vehicles even on the coldest New Hampshire days,” said Russell. “It’s been five years since we made the switch to B-20 in our 70-vehicle fleet, and we’ve had no problems whatsoever.”

Biodiesel is a cleaner-burning alternative to diesel fuel domestically produced from renewable resources, such as vegetable oils or fats. Biodiesel blends such as B-20, a blend of 20-percent biodiesel and 80-percent petroleum diesel, can be used in any diesel equipment without modification.

Biodiesel Used Across Sectors

Demonstrating biodiesel’s growing role in corporate sustainability, one of the nation’s largest food and drug retailers is fueling its entire U.S. truck fleet with B-20. Safeway, Inc. made the switch as part of the company’s greenhouse gas reduction initiative.

“Safeway is proud to lead by example to help protect the environment,” said Safeway Chairman, President, and CEO Steve Burd. “Using biodiesel to power our transportation fleet will prevent millions of pounds of carbon emissions from being released into the environment. Our biodiesel program is just one of many initiatives underway that will make a positive impact on the environment.”

The City of Denver’s Department of Public Works (DPW) began using B-20 in 60 vehicles in 2004 during a pilot program. The department gradually increased biodiesel use and now the city’s approximately 600-vehicle fleet is fueled with B-20 all year long. Denver DPW fleet managers expect to use about 1 million gallons of biodiesel this year.

“Denver has made the switch to biodiesel to benefit human health and the environment, to reduce harmful emissions, and to reduce the city’s dependency on foreign oil,” said Denver operations administrator Nancy Kuhn. “We knew it would be easy to implement with no modifications required to the vehicles, maintenance facilities, or fueling infrastructure. The fuel was also readily available.”

Biodiesel use has grown dramatically during the last several years. Production topped 450 million gallons in 2007, up from 250 million gallons in 2006.

That growth is likely to continue, especially with the recent passage of the federal Energy Bill. The measure significantly expands the renewable fuels standard (RFS). It will mandate a specific renewable requirement for diesel fuel that will be met by biodiesel and other renewable biomass-based diesel fuels, increasing the minimum renewable requirement in the diesel pool from 500 million gallons in 2009 to 1 billion gallons in 2012. In addition, the fuel labeling requirements in the bill will promote consumer confidence in renewable fuels and help ensure that only quality fuels are entered into commerce.


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