Fueled for the future

Written by Emily Battmer

The partnership has been so successful that Green says he has recommended Maine Standard to other biodiesel users who have had filter issues. He convinced one supplier at his New Hampshire depot to make the switch to Maine Standard for its superior quality, environmental and cost benefits.

“We’ve helped this vendor out, and at the same time we’re paying 10 cents per gallon less than traditional diesel,” he says. “So not only are we getting it cheaper than regular fuel, we’re getting all the emissions savings as well.”

Now, Green says he is using a 20 percent biodiesel blend for Oakhurst’s New Hampshire trucks year round. In Portland, he is blending 25–35 percent biodiesel during the winter, and increasing the blend to about 50 percent during the summer.

Almost 2,000 miles away, DFA’s Southwest Area is also enjoying the benefits of alternative fuel. John Ebert, director of sales and marketing in the Southwest Area, says environmentally friendly practices are becoming increasingly important as customers and consumers become more interested in sustainable food production.

Ebert has worked on a project to convert a portion of the Area’s fleet in Texas to compressed natural gas (CNG). In addition to reducing DFA’s carbon footprint and overall fuel costs, Ebert says the switch could give DFA a competitive edge.

“We have been getting interest from end-customers who are worried about their carbon footprint,” he says. “Doing this project could eventually help us market our milk as having a reduced carbon footprint. This might be something that allows us to meet the demands of our customers and supply them with milk that is more environmentally friendly.”

CNG is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gasoline and diesel alternative made by compressing natural gas — mostly methane — to less than 1 percent of its volume at standard atmospheric pressure. The fuel is drawn from domestic natural gas wells or produced in conjunction with crude oil, and it produces 90 percent fewer emissions, depending on the make and model of the vehicle, according to cngnow.com.

The Area made the commitment to convert a portion of its diesel fleet to CNG-powered trucks in fall 2013, when DFA signed a deal with AMP Americas agreeing to purchase a certain amount of fuel from AMP, which in turn is building seven public-access fueling stations along major intersections serving routes throughout Texas. The first CNG-powered trucks began hauling milk in February 2014.

Currently, Ebert says haulers are primarily using two stations, located in Waco and Sweetwater. Forty trucks hauling DFA milk are currently running on CNG, accounting for about 7 million miles per year — more than 10 percent of the Southwest Area’s annual 60 million miles of travel. AMP officials estimated that the deal would displace carbon emissions equal to removing 2,400 cars per year from the road and could save the supply chain as much as $2 on every gallon sold.

The deal DFA signed is for a seven-year period, and there is always room for expansion, Ebert says.

“We view this as a long-term commitment,” he says.