Alabama Town Considers Biodiesel to Save Money

John Davis

ftpayne.jpgAs oil prices rise, so does the price of diesel fuel. Truckers, construction companies and municipalities are feeling the pinch of $4-plus-a-gallon diesel fuel, and one town in Alabama has figured out that a less expensive… and greener… solution is biodiesel.

This story from the Fort Payne (AL) Times-Journal says the city’s council is looking at the less expensive biodiesel as a way to also help the city’s wastewater treatment plant:

“Our initial problem came up in a council meeting that cooking oil and grease was getting into our sewer system,” [Councilman Richard] Pridmore said. “We are thinking people are pouring the cooking oil and grease down their sinks with hot water. Of course, there is no way for these people to recycle this. There is really no good place to be putting these things.”

The two problems of rising diesel costs and unwanted items in the sewer prompted Pridmore to speak with state Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, who had initiated a campaign statewide to increase biodiesel production.

At a council work session Tuesday, Pridmore brought an initial plan to the table. The plan includes going to restaurants to ask them to allow the city to pump out their grease tanks, which is already required of businesses to do. The city would pump the grease for possibly half the cost of having it done privately in exchange for the restaurant’s cooking oil – the main ingredient in biodiesel.

“If we pump it regularly, the grease can’t get into our sewer system,” Pridmore said. “It gets to our wastewater treatment plant, and that’s where most of our problem lies.”

Once the cooking oil is collected, it would be turned into biodiesel at a reactor the city could buy for about $22,000, Pridmore said.

The biodiesel could then be used in city vehicles, which are currently using about 5,000 gallons of regular diesel each month.

Pridmore believes they can make the biodiesel for just $1 per gallon. That means the city could end up saving about $400 a month.

And you have to believe that more cities will be striking more deals to make their own biodiesel.