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Town Stops Using Biofuel as Cost Rises

July 17, 2008

The town of Greenwich, Conn. has decided against using a soy-based biodiesel fuel to power about half of its 300-vehicle fleet after the price of the fuel became too high, according to the Stamford Advocate.

Santa Buckley Energy of Bridgeport offered a rate of $4.45 a gallon, 40 cents a gallon more than the cost of the regular diesel fuel the town has contracted to buy from Santa Buckley in the current fiscal year. Under the previous contract, with Standard Oil of Connecticut, the town paid $2.14 a gallon for diesel, town Fleet Director Betty Linck said.

Using biodiesel would have cut harmful emissions and helped establish greater fuel independence, but it was too costly, she said, adding that a scarcity of regional suppliers boosts transport costs and is one reason for higher biodiesel prices.

This spring, Linck and Sullivan visited Keene, N.H., which has used the biodiesel fuel for the past six years.

The blend is made up of 20 percent soybean oil and 80 percent diesel fuel, Linck said.

Cheaper biodiesel fuels, which use a mix of other substances like palm oil, corn oil or animal fat, have raised concerns about performance and mechanical problems, including engine clogs, Linck said.

The town uses 130,000 gallons of diesel fuel a year, Linck said.

Stephen Russell, Keene's fleet director, said the price of biodiesel fuel increased about 10 cents this spring, and is now 17 cents more than the price of regular diesel.

“Biodiesel really does make a difference in air quality and our engines are cleaner,” the Stamford Advocate quoted Russell as saying. “But 50 cents more a gallon when the base price of diesel is already up two bucks is very expensive. I applaud Greenwich for trying.”

 

 

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