Thursday, February 5, 2009

"Cities be doin' it for themselves..."

Kokomo, IN opens city-run recycled cooking oil bio-diesel plant!

I have been an alternative energy nut since I was a teenager. From an early age, I was convinced that wise and lovely Mother Earth could provide us with all the clean, renewable energy we would need - when we finally got smart enough to figure it out. It was a sad day for me when one of Ronald Reagan's first official acts as President was to tear down the experimental solar panels Jimmy Carter had installed on the roof of the White House.

So here's the fabulous local news item of the day: our metropolitan neighbor to the north, Kokomo, IN, has just opened the state's first city owned and operated biodiesel plant. Spearheaded by their new, progressive mayor Greg Goodnight, this isn't just any ol' biodeisel plant. Like Willie Nelson's "BioWillie" venture, this is cleaner-burning biodeisel that's made by chemically recyling used frying/cooking oil - at this point is donated by 12-area restaurants - into diesel fuel.

So instead of clogging up the city's sewers, old doughnut and french fry oil is being converted into a cleaner-burning fuel that will COMPLETLY RUN THE CITY'S DIESEL TRANSPORTATION FLEET! (You knew you could do that, right? You can damn near pour Crisco into a diesel engine and it will run. Albeit a bit less-than-perfectly, you have to refine it and add some anti-freeze component to get it to be really usable, which apparently is what this plant does.)

According to today's article by Scott Smith in the Kokomo Tribune (link to full story below), the city put up $60,000 to get the venture up and running and it's part of a larger city plan to greenly reinvigorate the local economy. Called "K-Fuel", the resulting product burns cleaner than regular diesel, is less stressful on engines, and can be produced for - get this - 80 cents a gallon, which will save them approx. $25K this year in transporation costs.

Rock on, Greg Goodnight and Kokomo! This is how we are going to create the new, green economy, people - by actually digging in and making it happen. Small-scale, local, brilliant. At some point, I want to go tour the facility, and I'll keep you posted. Wouldn't you much rather want to smell doughnuts coming out of a bus exhaust? (I know my brother's housemate Jay sure would...)

Read the full story on the Kokomo Tribune site here:

And get more info on Kokomo's Green Energy plan here:

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