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Salt Lake Tribune. The Utah Transit Authority is switching to a B20 biodiesel blend for its fleet.

The transit agency, which serves Salt Lake City, Provo, Orem and surrounding counties, is in the final stages of negotiating a purchase agreement with an Ogden refinery to provide biodiesel for UTA’s bus and para-transit fleets.

The switch could take effect by early next year, and could save the agency between 12 and 15 cents per gallon on its fuel costs.

“It’s something we’re very interested in,” UTA spokesman Justin Jones said Wednesday. “We’re approaching it cautiously, but optimistically.”

At a savings of even 10 cents a gallon, he notes, UTA could save $750,000 annually in fuel costs.

At the high end of the estimate, it might even be enough to take something like a recently proposed fuel surcharge off the table.

The shift to biodiesel marks a change in UTA’s approach to alternative fuels. The agency has a few natural gas buses, but it is phasing those out.

UTA General Manager John Inglish told UTA’s board of trustees Wednesday that the future of transit fuel alternatives is pointing toward hybrid-electric and hydrogen fuel cells. The latter is probably another two decades away; the former could be in widespread use in the next five years.

Two developments contributed to UTA’s conversion. First is availability, with Ogden-based Kellerstrass Oil willing to produce the fuel. Second is the recently-passed federal energy bill, which provides credits for alternative fuel production.

Utah Transit was the 37th largest transit fleet in the US in 2004, with a total fleet of 508 vehicles.


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