KALAMAZOO, MI — The Kalamazoo City Commission approved a $125,000 contract to start using biodiesel as fuel in city-owned vehicles to lower the emissions of the fleet.

The contract was approved during a Monday, June 7, city commission meeting after a brief discussion.

Kalamazoo Department of Public Works Director James Baker gave a detailed technical explanation about how the fuel works and an overview of the pilot. It will be brought to Kalamazoo from out of state, he said, because there are no sources currently available in Michigan.

Biodiesel was selected as a preliminary potential alternative fuel source to reduce the city fleet’s carbon emissions, Baker said.

In engine and equipment certified by the manufacturer to operate on biodiesel, the emissions reductions can be achieved without modifications, the city agenda packet states.

The city-owned diesel vehicles that will be a part of the program can run on biodiesel with no modifications, Baker said in a message to MLive.

Under the biodiesel pilot, running from June 2021 through June 2022, fuel performance across all temperatures, operating conditions and engine/vehicle and equipment configurations will be analyzed. The selected vehicles and equipment will be trialed and evaluated against vehicles and equipment of the same or like make, model and year running conventional petroleum diesel fuel from existing suppliers for comparisons, the city agenda packet states.

Maintaining operational readiness will be the primary determinate of success with the biodiesel pilot, it states.

A licensed underground tank and dedicated fuel pump at the city’s public works facility on Stockbridge Avenue will be dedicated to the pilot, and all vehicles and equipment selected for the pilot will be card and code accessed for biodiesel only. Equipment not selected for the pilot will not be able to access the biodiesel, the city said.

The city of Portage Public Works Department is joining in the biodiesel pilot, Baker said. Portage Public Works trucks and equipment will also be accessing the biodiesel pump at Stockbridge to conduct their own pilot evaluation with vehicles and equipment owned by the city of Portage, Baker said.

The Kalamazoo City Commission voted unanimously to approve the contract with Kalamazoo Oil.

The pilot is the initial step toward full biodiesel implementation, Baker said.

The agenda packet states that the public services department concludes there is no material price difference between biodiesel and conventional petroleum diesel.

Read more:

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Kalamazoo commissioners will test out public meetings to replace closed-door sessions

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