Government Fleet Top News

Snohomish County Fleet Fills Up with B-20 Biodiesel

January 11, 2006

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, WA – Hundreds of Snohomish County fleet vehicles, including off-road and construction equipment, are now using a blend of fuel that is 20 percent biodiesel, according to the Web site, www.heraldnet.com/. “We think it's worth doing,” said Allen Mitchell, the county's fleet manager. There are several reasons for the switch, he said.“For one, to clean up the air. And it's better for our employees health-wise; diesel is not good stuff to breathe,” Mitchell said. “Thirdly, there's some economics associated. If enough people buy it, it becomes viable as a product.”Late last year, the county fleet's wholesale fuel supplier, PetroCard, paid to clean and convert one of the tanks at its Arlington station to start selling biodiesel.According to www.biodiesel.org/, the official Web site of the National Biodiesel Board, there are 28 public biodiesel retailers in Washington state. None of those is in Snohomish County.Using the biodiesel blend costs 15 cents more per gallon, and the county pumps anywhere from 16,000 to 20,000 gallons of diesel a month from the Arlington fueling station.The switch means the county will spend anywhere from about $29,000 to $36,000 more on fuel this year.But taking into account the increases in regular fuel and clean-air credits the county may earn for the switch, the cost for switching to biodiesel may even out, County Executive Aaron Reardon said.In October, federal regulations will require the switch to ultra-low-sulfur diesel, which in theory can also be mixed with diesel, although there are a few bugs to be worked out, Mitchell said. The blending of those two fuels will make for even less polluting emissions, he said.Making the switch to biodiesel is part of a larger plan to bring Snohomish County a piece of the alternative-fuel action.Reardon would like to see Snohomish County farmers grow mustard seed and canola, products used to create biodiesel, and he'd like to see the county's vehicles running on fuel grown locally.

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