Creating New Opportunities Off-road

By Ed Burke | June 14, 2011

For local fuel dealers, there is a lot of talk about state biodiesel initiatives and providing new opportunities in Bioheat and other off-road biodiesel applications. To this we say: “Get in now and don’t wait for the mandate.”

Dennis K. Burke Inc. is a family-owned fuel dealer that has been delivering premium fuels for more than 50 years. The Burke family shares a unique marketing experience on the road to bringing biofuels into the mainstream oil market. Servicing state and local biodiesel contracts for Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Burke gained years of biofuels experience in off-road applications and delivering Bioheat to many schools, government buildings and commercial properties.

Burke began its journey with biodiesel began back in 1996, primarily offering B20 blends to fleets complying with EPAct. Biodiesel looked promising, but quality issues were concerning. As quality improved and tax incentives for biodiesel became available, demand increased. By 2002, Burke was well-positioned as a biodiesel blender for major fleet operators and had the only retail fuel pumps dispensing biodiesel within 100 miles of Boston.

Looking back, who could have imagined all of the off-road applications for biodiesel that we have today? A few worth noting include the trailblazers at Massachusetts’ Taunton State Hospital, which initially began using a B3 Bioheat blend on the hospital’s 500-horsepower Cleaver-Brooks boilers in November 2006. After three or four weeks, the blend was increased to B5, and by January 2007, it increased to B10. The engineers photographed and documented the boiler’s improved condition and better performance. In 2008, the blend went to B20—and has been running smoothly since.

Dennis K. Burke does not service residential heating accounts. As fuel wholesalers, the opportunity to blend Bioheat for our fuel dealer customers has worked well and provides a more natural fit to our business. Snow’s Fuel Oil & Propane is one of Massachusetts’ largest fuel dealers on Cape Cod. The company introduced B5 Bioheat as a home heating oil alternative in 2007. More than 350 current accounts switched to Bioheat, and it quickly added 60 new accounts. A few years ago, Massachusetts-based Alvin Hollis Oilheat introduced Bioheat as a home heating oil alternative and now services more than 1,000 Bioheat accounts. Construction firms are using biodiesel to green their fleets and equipment to meet environmental guidelines necessary to bid on many government and private contracts.

From buses and trolleys to tour boats and water taxis, tourism dollars are creating a biodiesel boom in the Northeast. More and more off-road applications are seeing economic rewards in reducing emissions with biodiesel. You can spend a day on Boston’s historic Freedom Trail and learn that many of the historic sites and public buildings are kept warm with Bioheat.

Newburyport Whale Watch in Newburyport, Mass., is a great tale. In 2006, it started adding home-brewed biodiesel made from restaurant grease when fueling at the marina. A few years back it realized that biodiesel was fun, but the blending wasn’t. It now fuels by truck with a B10 blend.

You can take a B10-powered water-taxi to the shops across the harbor at Mid-Harbor Launch in Marblehead, Mass. The company converted all of its launch service and mooring equipment to B10 in 2008 and is very happy with biodiesel’s performance.

Recreational boaters in Rhode Island can pull up to the fuel dock at Port Edgewood Marina and fill up with a B20 biodiesel blend. Marinas are going green to keep their waters clean with B5 to B20 blends, and boaters are getting hooked on the benefits.

In northern New England, it’s all about the snow. Many ski slopes and resorts are concerned with the effects of climate change on their industry. Choosing biodiesel is one way for operators to emphasize their efforts in reducing greenhouse gases.

At Toreka Tractor Sales in Ayer, Mass., every new tractor leaves the showroom with a fill of B5 in the winter and B20 during warmer months. Using biofuels on the farm is becoming more common in our area—the more Earth-friendly, the better. Buying local plays a big role in green culture, so there are marketing rewards for local farms using biodiesel and Bioheat.

Working with biodiesel for 15 years, we’ve learned this: Start with a better quality biodiesel feedstock, blend it with a premium quality diesel or heating oil, and you will sleep better at night. In the end, biodiesel and Bioheat have a role in energy policy and the mandates will eventually come. As for these biodiesel pioneers mentioned, like me, they enjoyed the journey.

Author: Ed Burke
Chairman, Dennis K. Burke Inc.
(617) 884-7800
[email protected]

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