Biodiesel awards recognize diverse cross section of biodiesel champions

By | March 17, 2008
A Florida utility took home honors from the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, in Orlando, Fla. Local biodiesel user Florida Power & Light was one of the award recipients of the National Biodiesel Board's annual Eye on Biodiesel Awards. The utility joined an Ivy League school, a branch of the U.S. military and other visionaries recognized for their contributions to biodiesel development.

The largest investor-owned electric utility in the state, Florida Power & Light first began using B20 in 1999. Today its entire diesel fleet of almost 2,500 vehicles runs on about 500,000 gallons of B20 annually.

"We thank the NBB and its members for this recognition," said George Survant, director of fleet services for Florida Power & Light. "Today, we are one of the cleanest utilities in the nation. Switching to B20 has allowed us to lessen harmful emissions plus diminish our dependence on foreign oil."

The awards program recognizes individuals and groups who have significantly advanced the board's mission of public education and industry growth. Florida Power & Light took home the Initiative award. Other categories and honors, and their respective winners and biodiesel initiatives include:

Impact: Growmark Inc.-A leading agricultural cooperative, Growmark has demonstrated its ongoing commitment to the advancement of the biodiesel industry. The Illinois-based company's biodiesel sales grew from 10,000 gallons in 2000 to an estimated 22.7 million gallons in 2007. Growmark has offered hundreds of educational seminars and presentations, and has invested substantially in biodiesel infrastructure.

Industry Partnership: National Oilheat Research Alliance-A collaborative program established by the oilheating industry in 2001, NORA has been a leading force in Bioheat heating oil education. In 2006, NORA partnered with the NBB to obtain a trademark for the Bioheat fuel logo and streamline the process for becoming a registered Bioheat heating oil distributor.

Inspiration: David E. Harris, Jr./Harvard University-Under the leadership of Harris, general manager of transportation services, Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., made the switch to B20 five years ago. It continues to fuel its 68-vehicle fleet with B20. Several other local fleets, including those in the city of Boston, have followed Harvard's lead. Harris continues to meet with potential biodiesel users and is the leading member and Harvard representative on the U.S. EPA's Greater Boston Breathes Better (GB3) program.

Influence: Barry (Tom) Smallwood/U.S. Marine Corps-Under the leadership of Smallwood, deputy director of the commercial fleet for the U.S. Marine Corps, biodiesel use has skyrocketed within the Marine Corps since 2001. He developed a strategy for the Marine Corps to achieve the 20 percent by 2005 fuel reduction requirement under Executive Order 13149. Thanks to biodiesel, the reduction reached 28.5 percent in 2006. Smallwood's initiative has also led to 90 percent of the Marine Corps bases now using B20.

Innovation: Cummins Inc.-This company's extensive multi-year research efforts on engine compatibility with biodiesel blends led it to be one of the first companies to support the use of B20 biodiesel blends in its diesel engines. Cummins' pioneering efforts have set a positive example for automakers and other engine manufacturers.

In addition, the NBB presented the Pioneer Award, an annual special honor to an individual or group who has served the industry, to NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center. Located on Florida's east coast 45 minutes from Orlando, the center switched to B20 in 2003 in its fleet of 144 diesel-powered vehicles. It has since used more than 276,000 gallons of the fuel.

The NBB honored one of its own-Lola Helming-with the Dedicated Service Award. Helming has been the NBB's office coordinator for 15 years and was the NBB's first official
employee. Most who have contacted the NBB headquarters have received Helming's warm greeting, and she has helped to keep the office running smoothly from biodiesel's research days to the 500 million-gallon industry it has become.
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