Local News

Biodiesel May Get Boost In N.C. As Alternative Fuel

Posted September 28, 2005 6:22 a.m. EDT

— Michael Boyette runs a lot of big equipment on his farm, and everything runs on biodiesel. It's an alternative fuel source made from soybean oil.

Biodiesel is sold at several stations throughout North Carolina, and there are three proposals to build production plants in Autryville, Ashville and Mount Olive.

"Biodiesel is cleaner for the environment," Boyette said. "It's a renewable source of energy."

When biodiesel first hit the market, it was more expensive. That, however, is changing.

Tax incentives for biodiesel producers have helped the costs come down in the past year.

Now, because oil prices have been rising, a gallon of diesel and a gallon of biodiesel cost about the same.

There are some concerns biodiesel can harm engines. But so far, there's no proof. Studies also show there is no performance drop-off when compared to regular diesel.

That's why Boyette and many other farmers are making the switch to biodiesel.

"Interest is really growing with biodiesel, especially in recent months," said Sam Brake, manager of Grain Growers Cooperative.

Potter Oil, one of the state's largest distributors of biodiesel, plans to put up several biodiesel pumps in North Carolina in October. They hope to add at least one pump every month in counties throughout eastern North Carolina.

"For sure having more public pumps will make it very much more accessible," Brake said.

That could mean big business for farmers like Boyette who also grow soybeans.

"If soybean prices were to increase, then naturally we could make more money with soybeans," Boyette said.