Starting July 1, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's 870 cars, trucks, buses, vans, tractors and utility vehicles will run on alternative fuels produced primarily from Nebraska crops, according to a June 25 report in The Independent.
UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman said the decision to commit to fueling the university's fleet with soy biodiesel and ethanol-blended gasoline derived from corn is best financially, environmentally and for the future of Nebraska.
UNL is one of the largest motor vehicle fleets in the state, with 130 sedans, 82 passenger vans, 18 buses, 150 pickups and 79 utility vans, in addition to 407 department-owned vehicles and a large number of tractors, mowers and off-road equipment in locations across the state, the report said.
On May 20 Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman issued an executive order requiring state employees to fill up with E85 ethanol and biodiesel fuel, whenever available within a reasonable distance, while operating the state's flexible-fuel or diesel-powered vehicles.
Heineman said the state already requires fleet vehicles to use E10 unleaded, a readily available fuel with 10 percent ethanol. Nebraska was the first state to mandate the use of E10, beginning in 1980, according to the Independent report.
Patrick Barrett, director of UNL Transportation Services, said the competitive price of alternative fuels today makes the changeover particularly cost effective.
He said soy biodiesel costs about 1 to 3 cents more per gallon, depending on the market, but the benefit to Nebraska—the third-largest ethanol production capacity in the nation—outweighs the cost differential.