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Motorists discovering benefits of biodiesel

Users shoulder higher cost in return for cleaner fuel

Joe Kolman
The Idaho Statesman

Gary Moles goes out of his way and pays a little more to put biodiesel in his pickup and car.


“Look out the window,” he says, referring the current weather inversion, which can trap pollution from cars and other sources in the Treasure Valley.

"There is so much particulate crud in the air,” he says. “I´m not going to poison myself."

Moles is not alone among those who are using cleaner-burning biodiesel in their diesel vehicles. More than 90,000 gallons of biodiesel has been sold at the lone public pump in the Treasure Valley since it opened in April 2003.

The Kicks 66 station at the corner of Emerald Street and Five Mile Road sells about 10,000 gallons of biodiesel a month.

Another 84,000 gallons was used in 2003 as part of a state Energy Division program that pays the difference in cost between diesel and biodiesel to participating agencies. The B20 blend of biodiesel — 80 percent regular fuel and 20 percent soybean product or restaurant grease — costs about 15 cents more per gallon than regular diesel. Participants in the federally funded program include Meridian School District, Sanitary Services Co. in Meridian, BFI, the Department of Transportation, Nampa and Boise Head Start.

Statewide, about 200,000 gallons of biodiesel were sold in 2003, the first full year that it was available. There also are public pumps in Twin Falls, Shoshone and Vale, Ore.

The amount of biodiesel sold pales in comparison to the 358 million gallons of regular diesel sold statewide. But more people will likely use biodiesel as they become aware of the benefits and it becomes more widely available, says Dick Larsen,a spokesman for the state Department of Water Resources, which includes the Energy Division.

Moles is hopeful for the day when biodiesel abounds.

"I don´t run it all the time, because there´s only one place to get it,” says Moles, who lives in Nampa and works in Boise. “I´m going to be really happy when the Chevron on the corner by my house has this stuff.