Oregon Starts Push for Renewable Diesel

John Davis

oregongovThe state government in Oregon is using a combination of incentives and technical expertise to support adoption of renewable diesel. This news release from the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) says some of the results of the initiatives include reduced emissions and a decrease in fleet maintenance for the Eugene Water & Electric Board, which began testing this innovation in alternative fuel in September 2015.

“Public agencies and companies across Oregon are working on ways to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and reach their climate goals,” said ODOE Director Michael Kaplan. “ODOE helps them get there by offering expertise on fleet management and innovative products like renewable diesel.”

In 2014, ODOE issued the Eugene Water & Electric Board a tax credit for installing an alternative fuel fueling station to run its fleet of vehicles. The station was designed to pump biodiesel, a well-known alternative fuel also made from natural fats and oils. But ODOE Senior Policy Analyst Rick Wallace thought EWEB could go even “greener” by using renewable diesel rather than biodiesel.

EWEB was enthusiastic about giving the product a try. “Moving our fleet to biodiesel helped us achieve our carbon reduction goals,” said EWEB Fleet Manager Gary Lentsch. “Switching to renewable diesel has taken us to another level.”

EWEB quickly realized the benefits of switching to renewable diesel for its fleet of 85 diesel vehicles. Using a regular gallon of diesel fuel emits more than 30 pounds of greenhouse gases into the air. Using a gallon of renewable diesel emits fewer than 10. EWEB is currently using about 6,100 gallons of renewable diesel a month.

EWEB also discovered that renewable diesel is much easier on vehicle engines and diesel particulate filter systems. After making the switch, Lentsch noticed a significant decrease in maintenance issues. “We have telematics on all of our vehicles and equipment so we know what’s going on with our fleet,” he said. “It wasn’t uncommon to get alert codes on our vehicles, and our shop would have to manually empty the filters (known as regeneration). After we switched to renewable diesel, our trucks don’t require regeneration as often as when they were using regular diesel. As a matter of fact, the shop hasn’t done a manual re-gen since the switch. Now, our trucks are staying in service longer with less down time.”

Renewable diesel is seen as an emerging market in the state.

Biodiesel, renewable diesel