Biodiesel and Ethanol

Alliant Switches Fleet Vehicles to Biofuels

July 2008, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by Steve Bennett

 

With a fleet of approximately 800 vehicles, utility company Alliant Energy Corp. headquartered in Madison, Wis., is using renewable fuel to serve its approximately 1 million electric and 400,000 natural gas customers in the Midwest.

 

Biodiesel Use Benefits Alliance

Some of the fleet’s larger service trucks have been using biodiesel. The company launched an alternative fuel pilot in late 2006. Since then, Alliant has expanded its use of biodiesel.

Last September, the company began using a 10,000-gallon tank at its site in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to fuel approxi-mately 80 utility trucks with biodiesel, and another 10,000-gallon tank at a facility in Ames, Iowa, to fuel another 46 utility trucks with the biodiesel, said Frank Galle, Alliant’s senior manager, customer service. The fuel is B-5, a blend of 5-percent biodiesel — in this case soybean-based — and 95-percent conventional diesel.

The vehicles using the blended fuel are International straight trucks, includ-ing trenchers, digger derricks, tractors, and bucket trucks. Though they are routinely fueled with B-5, there are exceptions when conditions do not permit the vehicles to return to their base and they are refueled elsewhere with conventional diesel. When field crews repair damage caused by storms, for example, "They’re not going to drive back in to fuel up," Galle said, since the work they’re typically doing — restoring power to commercial and residential customers — is urgent.

Alliant’s fleet maintenance department weathered its first winter using biodiesel on a larger scale. Other than a slight incident of fuel gelling, Galle said biodiesel use had no repercussions on operations or vehicle maintenance. The gelling was addressed by applying anti-gelling additives to the fuel, he added.

 

Alternative Fuels Clean and Green

Alliant alternative-fuel initiatives also extend to smaller, gasoline-powered fleet vehicles, such as those used for meter reading. For example, the company said four new flex-fuel vehicles are used in Cedar Rapids, Albert Lea, Minn., and Beloit and Ripon, Wis. They are fueled with E-85, a blend of 85-percent ethanol and 15-percent gasoline, which burns cleaner than gasoline and is renewable and environmentally friendly, Alliant said.

Of the use of E-85 and biodiesel, Alliant’s vice president of energy delivery customer service, Barbara Siehr, said, "We do all we can to have a cleaner environment while supporting agriculture and industries that are fueling the growth of renewable energy sources."

"Using these alternative-based fuels builds on our commitment of deploying new technologies," Siehr added.

The renewable-fuel initiatives are part of the company’s larger overall aim to use renewable energy where possible. For example, in 2001, Alliant introduced a program called "Second Nature," designed to purchase renewable energy from wind, solar, and landfill sources. The company said that more than 42 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy were purchased in 2006 on behalf of customers participating in the program. WT

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