Four-dollar diesel

For quite a while the biodieselers in our area have been wondering what will happen to our cosy little niche when diesel and biodiesel hit price parity at $3.50. Well, here we are – for well over a week now the price of diesel has been well over $3.50 per gallon and since last weekend over $4 per gallon at many gas stations – that’s $1 per litre for you metric people. Sure, that’s nowhere near the $2 per liter many Europeans are paying these days, but the percent increase last year in the US has been much higher than in Europe.

With biodiesel being the cheap fuel in town, the coop can not keep those tanks on the b100 trail full. At the same time feedstock prices have shot through the roof. So, despite the fact that they were determined to keep the biodiesel prices stable, they now face having to up the price to adjust to the higher feedstock prices.

Personally, I feel divided over this issue. On the one hand this should teach people not to freaking waste fuel any more by leaving their SUVs idling while gossiping in the Kroger parking lot. Yet I also know that this hit the people hardest who least can afford it. Our lives are so car-centric here – you just can hardly get anything done without a car, especially when you have children. I mean, I bike to work whenever I can, but when I have to run errands, I need a car. When I pick up the kids after school I need a car. When I have meetings on campus I need a car.

The impact of the 4-dollar diesel prices (and close to 4-dollar gasoline prices) on my life are actually minimal at this point. I have access to good quality used fryer oil and methanol prices are still below $4/gallon, so I can still brew a batch of nice biodiesel for well under a dollar a gallon. And by replacing 4-dollar diesel, I actually save well over $10 per work hour by brewing the juice myself.

Speaking of money and cars – this week I took the Jetta in to the shop because the check-engine light had come on, and my mechanic informed me that the timing belt needed to be changed and the fuel pump was leaking. The timing belt is a no-brainer. The car had just passed the 80,000-mile mark and so that’s no question. The fuel pump is a real drag – a rebuilt pump costs $1,100! I considered having a guy just change the gaskets and reseal it for around $400, but I did not go for that this time around. So that’s where our tax refund went.

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