Biodiesel fueling station opens in Monroe CountyWritten by Duane Ramsey | | email@example.com
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Oct. 30 to celebrate the opening of a new biodiesel fueling station in Monroe that will service vehicles of the Monroe County Road Commission (MCRC) and Lake Erie Transportation Commission (LETC).
“The new fueling station will save on fuel costs,” said Mark Jagodzinski, general manager of Lake Erie Transit (LET), in a news release. “We are continually working to reduce our operating expenses and keep LETC operating within the tax levy renewal voted on by tax payers in August.”
Rider fares amount to only eight percent of LET’s income, Jagodzinski said.
LET has 33 vehicles that will be converted to use biodiesel fuel, according to the agency. MCRC has more than 125 pieces of equipment that use diesel fuel or gasoline to operate. Most diesel vehicles can use biodiesel with little or no modifications.
The biodiesel fueling station is located on MCRC property at the corner of South Telegraph Road and West Seventh Street in Monroe. Three 15,000-gallon tanks are located at the station, one with biodiesel, and others with diesel and unleaded gasoline to serve separate islands for each fuel.
“It represents a cooperation among government agencies that came together to get the grant for this project,” said Mickey Duffy, chairman of the MCRC.
Duffy recognized U.S. Rep. John Dingell and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow for their support of the project. Both Dingell and Stabenow spoke briefly at the ceremony and led the ribbon-cutting.
“We’re very happy to have this biodiesel fueling station after five years of planning and building this project,” said Joseph Lybik, commissioner of the LETC.
The station was designed and built through a joint-venture between the MCRC and LETC. The project allowed the MCRC to upgrade its existing fueling station and LETC to have a nearby biodiesel fueling location for its vehicles that serve Monroe County.
The agencies received a $1 million federal grant for the project with each contributing 10 percent or a total of $200,000 in matching funds for the $1.2 million total cost.
“It’s bringing tax dollars back into the community,” Jagodzinski said.
The collaboration allowed the two agencies to meet their fueling needs and avoid duplication in the future, according to officials from both organizations.
“This partnership gave us an opportunity to pull our resources together to become more efficient,” said Randy Pierce, director of operations and acting interim director of the MCRC, in the release. “With the use of the new biodiesel fuel, we are able to be more environmentally friendly and help control our operating costs. We feel this venture could create more opportunities to involve other agencies in the future.”
“It’s good for Monroe County, Michigan, the country, agriculture and the environment,” Dingell said about the culmination of effort by everyone involved in the project.
The use of biodiesel results in a substantial reduction of hydrocarbons, which create smog or ground-level ozone, and particulate matter.
Pure biodiesel fuel is nontoxic and biodegradable, made from vegetable oil, used cooking oil or animal fats. It can be 100 percent biodiesel or blended with traditional diesel fuel. The system in Monroe County is using biodiesel blended with diesel fuel, according to the MCRC.
Biodiesel is domestically produced so its price is not determined by world oil markets. More than one billion gallons of biodiesel were produced in the U.S. last year and it is currently the least expensive of biofuels, according to industry sources.
Soybean oil is one of the key ingredients in the biodiesel fuel now used in Monroe County, which is among the top five counties in the growth of soybeans in Michigan, according to Keith Reinholt of the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee.
“We grow things and make things in Michigan and this project is an example of what can be accomplished when everyone works together,” said Stabenow, who is chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Lake Erie Transit (LET) has provided public transportation in Monroe County since 1980 and serves the needs of 400,000 riders annually. LET operates buses on eight fixed routes with 40-minute schedules in the City of Monroe. Door-to-door Dial-A-Ride services are offered in Bedford and Frenchtown townships in Monroe County.
The MCRC is responsible for maintaining 1,505 miles of roads in Monroe County. It performs a wide range of activities from cutting grass to removing snow in the winter.
Tags: Biofuel, Debbie Stabenow, Duane Ramsey, John Dingell, Lake Erie Transit, Lake Erie Transportation Commission, Mark Jagodzinski, Mickey Duffy, Monroe County, Monroe County Road Commission, Randy Pierce