Florida is Fueled with Biodiesel

Florida Power & Light Co. embraces environmental stewardship as a core value and has used biodiesel fuel regularly for nearly 20 years—one vital component of its corporate responsibility strategy.
By The National Biodiesel Board | January 01, 2020

Florida Power & Light Co. embraces environmental stewardship as a core value and has used biodiesel fuel regularly for nearly 20 years—one vital component of its corporate responsibility strategy. The utility is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, the world’s largest producer of renewable power from wind and solar, and powers its entire fleet of diesel vehicles and equipment with biodiesel blends. “Biodiesel really fits right into what we do,” said Patti Earley, FPL’s fleet fuels operations specialist. “We are a very green company.” FPL manages fuel for 3,900 vehicles that serve and support 5 million customer accounts across Florida.

Biodiesel helps FPL meet its alternative energy commitments under the Energy Policy Act by reducing petroleum consumption in vehicles. Through its use of electric, hybrid and biodiesel vehicles, the utility avoided using 576,000 gallons of petroleum fuel in 2018 and reduced CO2 emissions by 5,600 tons. More than half of those benefits were achieved with biodiesel. “We overcomply every year by a large number because of the amount of biodiesel we use,” Earley said.

FPL promotes its green fuel policies with messaging on its trucks and storage tanks. The biodiesel program began quietly in 1999, when the utility authorized its wet-hose fuel supplier to begin filling many diesel vehicles and pieces of equipment with B20. The utility did not alert employees to the change but tracked maintenance records over a six-month period. No issues were detected, and employees reported no performance changes, so the utility made the switch official and it has been using biodiesel blends fleet-wide ever since.

Earley said the fleet has used blends up to B35 with no problem but has now standardized B20 to maintain consistency across all operations.

“We do a lot of outreach through the Clean Cities program and to municipalities across the state,” Earley said. “After a number of these presentations, municipal officials would ask if they could buy from us.”

In the interest of expanding biodiesel usage, the utility now sells biodiesel blends under its own Earth Era brand. “The great thing about biodiesel is it’s a drop-in fuel,” Earley said. “You don’t make any changes to fixed fuel sites or changes to the transport equipment. And you don’t have to make any changes to the equipment it is being pumped into. If one of our trucks needs to go to a filling station and get straight ultra-low sulfur diesel and then go back to B20 when we fill it the next time, it doesn’t matter.”

That flexibility is particularly valuable in utility work, because repair crews and equipment travel across the country to provide mutual aid in the event of hurricanes and other catastrophes. They switch from straight diesel to biodiesel blends depending on where they are, and they cannot afford to have fuel-related issues.

Earley said the company will continue to use biodiesel as a cleaner, sustainable alternative to power its fleet. With a promise of performance, superior lubricity and endless environmental benefits, biodiesel is a win-win for Florida fuel. 

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