Steamboat Springs Space Station gas station owner Eric Dorris has began offering a cleaner burning alternative fuel to his diesel customers.
Last month, Dorris switched over his diesel tank to B20 diesel, a fuel that is a blend of 80 percent regular diesel and 20 percent biodiesel, a fuel that can be produced from soybeans, natural oils, animal fats and recycled cooking oil.
“I figured, give it a shot and see what happens,” said Dorris, adding that people in town with diesel vehicles had been asking him to supply B20.
Diesel has never been a great seller at Space Station, Dorris said, and sales of the B20 are similar to what he was selling with regular diesel.
On Friday, he was selling B20 for $3.90 a gallon, which Dorris said is similar to what he would be selling regular diesel for. According to the Clean Cities Alternative Fuel Price Report, B20 was a few pennies more expensive per gallon. The average price between March 30 and April 13 was $4.18 for B20 and $4.12 for regular diesel.
“It costs about the same,” said Dorris, who is using B20 in his own truck. “It runs in my truck just fine.”
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, B20 can be used in many diesel vehicles without any engine modifications. Besides burning cleaner, an added benefit is that the fuel acts like a lubricant and keeps parts from wearing prematurely.
The production of biodiesel hit record levels in 2011, according to the Department of Energy, largely because of government subsidies and the Renewable Fuel Standard, a federal program that requires transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels.
Despite record production levels, Dorris thinks many local diesel vehicle users do not know that the B20 fuel is an option.
“I haven’t seen a big demand for it, but things like this take time for people’s perceptions to change,” Dorris said.
Southside Station owner Steven Peterson said he has been selling the B20 mix for at least the past four years with limited success. He uses the fuel in his own truck, but said he was considering not selling it anymore. He was happy to learn that another station was selling it in Steamboat.
“Plain and simple, it doesn’t sell,” Peterson said.
On Friday, his B20 mix was selling for $4.50 and regular diesel was being sold for $4.20.
Suzie Romig, a volunteer who works with a local group interested in expanding the use of biodiesel, said there is a demand for the biodiesel fuel in Steamboat.
In a news release, Romig quoted Steamboat Springs Transit Operations Manager Jonathan Flint as saying the city has been fueling since May its fleet of 19 buses with 5 percent biodiesel.
Flint said that the biodiesel adds needed lubrication and that the bus fleet this summer is fueled for 5 cents less per gallon with the same gas mileage.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com