Biodiesel is catching on in Garfield County - in fact, it's making some inroads in the natural gas industry.Last week, Frank Anderson of Cardwell Distributing, a fuel broker to oil and gas producers, told the Garfield County Energy Advisory Board that EnCana is pilot-testing biodiesel to determine if it would be cost effective in its operations.Anderson deals in biodiesel from Blue Sun of Fort Collins. Biodiesel comes from vegetable oils, chiefly soybeans. Blue Sun uses canola and rapeseed oils grown in the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado. Most biodiesel, Anderson said, is mixed with regular diesel and can be used in any truck or car with a diesel engine. It's also used in tractors and boats. Blue Sun mixes its biodiesel at a plant in Alamosa, with the most common ratio being 80 percent diesel and 20 percent biodiesel.Biodiesel, which burns cleaner than petroleum and comes from a renewable resource, can extend the current supply of crude oil. Production is also energy-efficient, yielding "220 percent more energy than is required to produce it," according to the Blue Sun Web site.A host of local governments and businesses in Colorado have jumped on the biodiesel bandwagon, Anderson said, including the Aspen Skiing Co., and the cities of Boulder, Fort Collins, Durango and Denver. The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, which runs the valley's bus service, has been using a 5 percent blend of biodiesel since November, said RFTA chief executive officer Dan Blankenship."We'd like to find an alternative fuel and not depend on foreign oil; whether biodiesel is that for us I don't know," he said. "So far we haven't experienced any problems."Biodiesel is also economical, running about 3 cents per gallon higher than regular diesel, Anderson said."The price of biodiesel will go down as the price of diesel continues to go up," he said. Pricing is also aided by a federal government subsidy of $1 per gallon, Anderson added.B 20, the 80-20 mix of biodiesel and diesel, is available at Catherine Store in Carbondale and further afield in Boulder, Fort Collins and Alamosa.EAB member Orlyn Bell, who lives in Silt, asked EnCana representative Sher Long if the company is considering requiring its contractors to use biodiesel."We've had a tremendous increase in truck traffic (with the increase in natural gas production in Garfield County)," Bell said. "It seems a no-brainer."Long said the company is pilot testing the fuel in a Rifle contractor's water truck. But she added that EnCana has not made a decision about adding biodiesel to its fuel supply."It's a matter of educating as many people as we can. EnCana is certainly taking the next step," Anderson said."We've been looking into biodiesel as well," said Dave Cesark of Williams Production. EnCana and Williams are the county's leading natural gas producers.
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