By Luke Geiver

This month, New Mexico joined a handful of states mandating the use of biodiesel. All state agencies, political subdivisions and public schools operating on-road motor vehicles are now required to use at least B5.  After July 1, 2012, the B5 mandate will extend to consumers, and unless the state agriculture and energy departments find that the state has an insufficient supply of biodiesel, or the price of biodiesel significantly exceeds the price of diesel fuel for at least two months, the mandates will stay in effect. Rio Valley Biofuels, a biodiesel producer in Anthony, N.M., hopes the mandate will cause the government fleets to use more biodiesel, plant operations manager Jed Smith told Biodiesel Magazine.

Some government fleets however, didn’t need a mandate. The South Central Solid Waste Authority, a state agency responsible for management of solid waste in Las Cruces and Dona Ana County, has already run B20 blends in the majority of its diesel vehicles for the past three years. “In 2006, Patrick Peck, the director of SCSWA, approached Rio Valley Biofuels about running a B20 blend in his fleet,” Smith said. “He had been trying to find biodiesel in the area and was excited about the opportunity to use a renewable fuel.” Smith added that Rio Valley was awarded a bid to supply SCSWA with B20 and that SCSWA has been one of the best customers promoting the use of biodiesel in the area.

Every month, SCSWA orders a 7,500-gallon tanker of B20 for use in 16 tractor-trailers and trash trucks, landfill equipment including heavy duty tractors and bulldozers along with four diesel trucks. The feedstock used to produce the B20 generally comes from waste vegetable oil provided by local restaurants, but Smith said the plant can use almost any feedstock.

Rio Valley Biofuels has been producing biodiesel for five years, and “has worked very hard to educate people in the area about biodiesel,” Smith said. Along with SCSWA, El Paso Electric is running its fleet on a B20 blend, the University of Texas at El Paso has been purchasing B20 for its bus fleet since January of 2008 and both the city of Albuquerque and the New Mexico Department of Transportation have been using a blend of biodiesel, according to Smith.