City of Gadsden recognized for latest alternative fuel innovation


By Donna Thornton/News Editor

Mark Bentley, Executive Director of the Alabama Clean Fuels Commission praised the City of Gadsden and its leaders for taking initiative to use and even produced alternative fuels that are better for the environment and more cost-effective for the city.

Bentley spoke May 29 at a press conference at the Gadsden Public Works Department’s new dedicated B20 biodiesel tank.

The tank allows certain city vehicles to fill up with a 20 percent biodiesel/diesel mix.

Ira Phillips Inc. installed the tank. The city partnered with Ira Phillips Inc. for fuel purchases, which has led to tax savings in all the city’s fuel purchases.

Mayor Sherman Guyton said the partnership has saved the city more than $50,000 in tax exempt purchases.

Jonathan Tang, vice president of operations for Ira Phillips Inc., said the city’s previous fuel provider did not have a physical presence in the state of Alabama, and was not eligible for the tax exemptions Ira Phillips Inc. — which is located in Alabama — can obtain for the city.

In addition, there is a saving on the fuel price, too. Biodiesel is roughly one cent cheaper than conventional diesel fuel. Guyton said that alone will save the city $5,000.

Bentley said there are other benefits as well that can save money. Biodiesel can actually help clean an engine and may help trim the city’s preventive maintenance costs. This usage of soy-based B20 biodiesel is not the only way the city has embraced alternative fuels to save costs and lessen the city’s carbon footprint.

The City of Gadsden has an in-house biodiesel program, through a partnership with Auburn University, that recycles used vegetable oils, animal fats, and restaurant or household grease to make 100 percent biodiesel fuel that is used in the city’s moving tractors.

Bentley stressed another savings from recycling restaurant and household grease.

It keeps that grease out of the city’s sewer system, and prevents the clogs that are often caused by grease.

The city also is committed to using E85 fuel — 85 percent ethanol — for compatible vehicles, Guyton said. E85 burns cleaner and is cheaper – sometimes as much as 15 cents per gallon cheaper – than regular gas.

Bentley praised the fuels as well for their origin: they are domestically produced.

Bentley said these uses of alternative fuels will help lessen dependence on foreign-produced fuels. The U.S. currently sends $1 billion a day overseas in fuel purchases, he explained

“We are making progress,” he said, in alternative fuels. “There are no silver bullets. There are a lot of silver BBs.”

City of Gadsden Fleet Supervisor Jay Watson said the city council and the mayor have been very supportive of all efforts to bring alternative fuels into use.

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