Lots of exciting things going on in the world of alternative fuels these days. Congress is close to passing a bill that would close the “splash and dash” loophole, which would eliminate companies bringing in biodiesel from overseas, splashing in a bit of diesel to take a tax credit, then shipping it off to Europe for more subsidies. They are also (FINALLY) talking about upping the credit for WVO biodiesel to $1 to match that of new oil biodiesel. I guess someone finally figured out that recycled oil is a very good thing and should be encouraged.
The Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance is starting to build its core team, and we are proud to be on one of the working groups. A pioneer in Austin’s alternative fuel business, Jeff Plowman, was recently named Executive Director – pulling enough weight to bring the SBA headquarters to downtown Austin. The SBA will be a key player in the push toward responsibly produced biofuels, and we’re lucky to have them.
The City of San Francisco is now competing with established biodiesel producers for the grease generated by the many restaurants there, then trucking it out of state to be made into biodiesel for their own use. Opportunities abound for smart municipalities wanting to recycle waste into energy – however, I don’t believe that this is the way to do it. Sending health inspectors into restaurants to sign over the rights to their oil is unfair competition, and I’m certain we’ll be seeing a lawsuit by the end of the year.
This is a big one. After almost two years of doing all the work ourselves, we’ve hired our first employee. TJ Barr comes to us by way of Seattle, bringing with him 8 years of diesel mechanic skills. He is working with us on fuel deliveries, oil collection, transport of goods, and vehicle conversions. A hands-on helper is something we’ve talked about from the beginning, but we haven’t been able to justify it until now. Our first interview, our first paycheck, maybe even our first day off – it’s very exciting to take this step for our customers and for our own sanity. Next on our list will be a full-time relationship manager to work with restaurants and kitchens on oil recycling and/or an office manager to work on quickbooks and process flow (currently a large portion of what I do). We are not actively hiring for these positions yet, but resumes are being accepted at jasonat dieselgreenfuelscom
As the business has grown, our processes have evolved from verbal agreements to contracts, from handwritten sales logs to Quickbooks. Now that our oil collection has grown signficantly, we have been working behind the scenes to grow the business infrastructure to support our growing customer base. Rather than build a purpose-made facility to process oil at this larger scale, we have established a relationship with a business outside of Austin to perform this dirty task for us. This new partnership will ensure that we are able to keep up with demand, continue to scale as conditions require, and focus on our core business strengths. During this transition period, lasting until early July, we will not have any vegetable oil for sale of any kind. Once we get the system in place, we will have oil again, at a price that is $1.50 below biodiesel at our pump, including the federal road tax.
Announcing our new photo gallery – http://www.dieselgreenfuels.com/gallery is the home of our new site for pictures of customers, events, cool vehicles and equipment, and anything related to the Austin alternative fuel scene. Suggestions for content are welcome, and users can register to upload their own pictures as well.
I’m in the early stages of working on a book about my experiences over the last few years as part of an emerging movement of green entrepreneurs. From driving a Viper and working for a tech startup, to driving a plant-powered Volkswagen and dumpster driving for grease, I’ve worked 80 hours a week to jump out of one career and into another. I’ve met so many others with the same ambition that I feel our country is on the verge of a major shift in skillsets – from a technology-based economy focused solely on growth to the reality of shrinking resources (and ice caps). Somewhere in between the hardcore environmentalists and the investment bankers is a growing legion of unsatisfied office workers and cube dwellers. From the arline mechanic running a biodiesel business during his off hours to the telecom executive running a coop on the weekends, our middle class is turning green. Without the pressure of fighting to survive, or the distractions of the super rich, middle America has the time and money to work to make a difference. I believe that this is a story not yet told, barely seen and rarely heard. Just as I’ve been inspired by the people I’ve met from all over the country, there are millions more who haven’t yet heard the call. I hope to write something that inspires, motivates, and entertains. It will be a slow process, and I am seeking individuals or organizations that would be interested in telling their story. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 18 – 20th – Biodiesel Collective Conference, Golden CO (just outside Denver). This will be our third year attending the most important gathering of like-minded biodiesel enthusiasts in the country! For less than $100 plus travel, you can spend 3 days immersed in homebrew biodiesel, community-based oil collection, and cutting edge biofuels research presentations. Last year, we presented on the “failure” of our coop, and our evolution into a biodiesel distributor and oil collection/processor. This year, I plan to talk about the continued growth of the business, regulatory and legal issues related to our business, and absorb as much as I can from the other attendees.
September 17 – 18 – Texas Biodiesel Conference and Expo, Austin Airport Hilton. Save the date for this full day conference on biodiesel issues related to Texas. Lots of great speakers and panels planned, as well as a couple of great parties. We sat out last year because it was so depressing (thank you, TCEQ), but this year we are planning to attend.
October 17 – 18 – Austin Energy AltCar Expo, Palmer Auditorium. This FREE conference will show you all different types of alternative fueled vehicles. We will be there with our veggie powered 2004 Golf, giving demonstrations of the technology, talking about biodiesel, and representing Austin’s only source of these products. Come out and see us!
Austin Eco Network – a fantastic email listserv dedicated to eco-happenings around Austin. 0-5 emails per day, moderated posting.
Austin Bootstrap Network - a loose organization of people starting their own businesses by “bootstrapping”, generally referring to self-funding and working on a small to non-existent budget. Free to join, and great resources for entrepreneurs. There’s even a Sustainability Subgroup for entrepreneurs interested in starting businesses related to renewable energy, green building, energy conservation, and related areas.
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Thanks for reading,
Jason Burroughs, DieselGreen Fuels