Green Fleet

From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank

April 02, 2008

SANTA CRUZ, CA – The City of Santa Cruz is thinking of becoming a biofuel producer. Ron Pomerantz, a longtime Santa Cruz resident and member of the city Public Works Commission, would like to see the city scoop up old oil from local restaurants and convert it into biodiesel for the city’s diesel fleet. If any is left over, sell it to the public, he said, according to The Mercury News.

Pomerantz envisions a Public Works recycling truck picking up waste oil at local restaurants at no charge. The department would then convert the oil to biodiesel and use it to power the city’s diesel fleet. Pomerantz’s plan has yet to be presented to city officials. Making the idea a reality requires studying the estimated set-up expenses and ongoing operational costs of converting oil to fuel. Storage and transportation details also need to be investigated, Pomerantz said.

He said he’d like to have the program up and running by January.

The city would be looking at thousands of dollars in infrastructure costs to start a fuel conversion program, and having large amounts of biodiesel in storage is a liability, according to Jo Fleming of Ecology Action’s fryer-to-fuel program. Plus, established biofuel stations are in place across the region, including one at Ocean Street and Soquel Avenue.

Many Santa Cruz restaurants have their waste oil collected by Salinas Tallow, which delivers it to Bio Easi in Gonzales for production. It is then sold to Coast Oil, one of the country’s largest fuel distributors. The city currently buys biodiesel from Coast Oil.

Fleming said it would be a long time before Santa Cruz could save money from producing biodiesel instead of purchasing it from Coast Oil.

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