'Real Solution' Goes on Sale on Colorado's Western Slope

The Catherine Store became the first at-the-pump purveyor of biodiesel fuel on the Western Slope

Published: 26-Jan-2004

N class=body>With a delivery on Friday, The Catherine Store became the first at-the-pump purveyor of biodiesel fuel on the Western Slope.

The store on Highway 82 between El Jebel and Carbondale received its first delivery of the fuel, which is 20 percent vegetable-oil based, on Friday. Since the store has only one storage tank for diesel fuel, the store’s owners decided to get rid of petroleum diesel fuel altogether.

Store owners Cheryl Black Loggins and Rhonda Black were not available for comment Friday, but Loggins explained the move in a press release.

“Biodiesel is a real solution with significant environmental benefits,” she said, “and it’s a renewable source of energy that will aid the agricultural community.”

The fuel, known as B-20 blend, is 20 percent biodiesel mixed with 80 percent petroleum diesel and can be used in existing diesel engines without any modification. Bio-diesel fuel can be made out of many vegetable-based oils, including sunflower oil and soybean oil.

Besides being a renewable source, the fuel reduces emissions, is nontoxic and is biodegradable.

Fort Collins-based Blue Sun Biodiesel is supplying the Catherine Store’s new fuel choice. The oil-seed crops that the company obtains for the oil are being grown in eastern Colorado, northwestern Kansas and the panhandle of Nebraska.

The company is also researching planting the crops on the Western Slope and in the San Luis Valley, said Blue Sun Biodiesel co-founder and Vice President Sean Lafferty.

“It’s exciting to have this opening for customers on the Western Slope,” Lafferty said. “This is for people who care about energy independence, cleaner air and rural economic development.

“It’s also for people who want a higher-performance fuel, because our customers often notice less knocking, smoke and easier starts with Blue Sun compared to regular diesel.”

Although the price of biodiesel typically averages 20 percent more than the price of the petroleum product, John Long, a founding partner in Blue Sun, said the Catherine Store is committed to cutting its profit margins to offer biodiesel at a lower price.

We all “are cutting into our margins quite a bit,” Long said. “Western Petroleum is only taking a couple of pennies, and sometimes retailers jack up the price 10 to 20 cents, but they’re not doing that.

“It’s a good faith effort on everyone’s part to keep the price of B-20 affordable so everyone can try it out.”

In addition, Blue Sun is building a production facility on the Front Range that should be operational by late summer. The price should come down even further when the company doesn’t have to ship the fuel in from the Midwest, Long said.

“We’re trying to make this well publicized, and since next weekend is the X Games, a ton of people will be coming through the valley, and hopefully people will stop,” he said.

Long said hopefully the Roaring Fork Transit Agency will be prompted to make a switch to biodiesel because of the fuel’s availability in the valley.

Blue Sun currently sells about two million gallons of biodiesel each year to fleets in Boulder, Colorado Springs and several school districts and ski resorts, including the Aspen Skiing Co., which uses a mixture of the fuel for snowcats.

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