Brattleboro switches vehicle fleet to biodiesel
By DANIEL BARLOW Southern Vermont Bureau | July 17,2006
BRATTLEBORO — Starting this fall, about three dozen of Brattleboro's municipal vehicles will be running on biodiesel.
The Brattleboro Select Board voted 5-0 last week to begin using the fuel, which comes from vegetable oil and burns cleaner than traditional fuel. The switchover was brokered by Brattleboro Climate Protection, a nonprofit group working with the town on energy issues.
Town officials said vehicles that already have diesel engines will be making the switch, including maintenance vehicles from the Brattleboro Public Works Department, the BeeLine bus system, fire trucks, as well as emergency vehicles operated by the ambulance service Rescue Inc.
"Switching to biodiesel is becoming a mainstream idea for municipalities," said Paul Cameron, the executive director of Brattleboro Climate Protection. "Four years ago, there were only three large fleets using biodiesel. Now there are over 300 in the United States."
The nonprofit group, which operates from an office within the municipal center, has been working with the town to switch over for three years. But the slightly higher cost of biodiesel made the switch difficult, according to Town Manager Jerry Remillard.
Then gas prices began going up and biodiesel looked more like an attractive option, he said.
"The difference right now is about five and a half cents more than regular diesel," said Remillard. "So we're talking only about a $2,000 difference in a line item of $50,000 to $60,000."
Brattleboro will be using a blend called B-20, which is comprised of 80 percent traditional diesel fuel and 20 percent biodiesel. The fuel will be supplied by Fleming Oil in Brattleboro, which was one of the first companies in New England to begin carrying the blend at its fuel pumps.
The vehicles will begin using the fuel in August or September, when Brattleboro buys its quarterly 8,500 gallons of fuel for the vehicle fleet.
Cameron estimates the switch will result in an annual drop of 72 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which a vast majority of scientists say is the leading cause of global warming.
Brattleboro took a pledge in 2000 to reduce its overall emissions by 20 percent by 2010.
"I think we've laid a lot of groundwork by educating people on biodiesel," said Cameron. "People are much more familiar with the product and they know it is not something that will go away."
Contact Daniel Barlow at email@example.com.