Friday, March 17, 2006

Hudson Valley Biodiesel Coop 2006 Proposal

We are about to embark on an adventure to bring together folks from diverse backgrounds, interests and ambitions to form a coop to build, operate and share in the production of biodiesel. Our main purpose will be to form a working structure for collaborating in achieving these goals. The rewards of our labors will be quality homebrewed biodiesel to power our cars and trucks and to heat our homes and the formation of a community of advocates for a sustainable and environmentally responsible lifestyle.

Those joining this coop will participate in one or all of the different tasks necessary to convert waste restaurant vegetable oil into quality biodiesel. Some of the initial tasks will be to:

v Find an 80 gallon used electric hot water heater to server as our processor

v Collect 55 and 20 gallon polypropylene barrels from car washes to store WVO and biodiesel in.

v Find restaurants who want to participate in supplying us with their WVO.

v Collect enough WVO such that on April 1st we will be able to start brewing our first batch.

v Bring other salvaged or reusable supplies

On April 1st, we will come together with the hot water heater, barrels, and WVO and the necessary plumping hardware and electrical components to assemble an Appleseed processor. From this humble beginning our challenge will be to develop a working relationship such that we can brew at least one batch each week and share in consuming our output.

Leveraging last year’s successful coop formation I would like to propose the following structure for this year’s coop. Organizationally, active participant (members) will join the coop with an initial $50 fee. This fee goes towards the initial outlay needed to buy parts to build the first processor and purchase the necessary chemicals and supplies. Each member will need to contribute a collectively determined number of hours per week toward the making biodiesel. In reward for one’s participation biodiesel produced by the coop will be available to members at $1.00 per gallon, to be equally available to all members in good standing. If extra biodiesel is available, and the membership endorses this concept, biodiesel will be available to the public at $2.50 per gallon.

Whereas each member has responsibilities outside of the coop, participation can be at any or all of the different tasks. One goal of this coop will be as an educational advocate for alternative and sustainable fuels and as such each member is encouraged to participate in all of the different tasks. Tasks range from collecting oil, preparing the oil, filling the processor, running the processor and mixing chemicals, emptying the processor, washing the biodiesel, transferring the washed biodiesel into storage and dispensing biodiesel to members. There is also a need for a treasurer, a brew master and a task coordinator. Participation will be counted in hours regardless of the task involved.

This Tuesday we will meet to discuss this memo and begin to get organized and divide up the initial tasks such that we will be able to build our processor on April 1st. If anyone can find a used 80 gallon (or 50 gallon) electric hot water heater that is in good shape or can start to collect 55 gallon barrels, please do so. If you have any questions regarding what to scavenge, please give me a call. I believe we have some WVO already and we need to set guidelines as to what quality WVO we will collect so as not to create more problems than we have time and energy to solve.

Anyone interested in participating in building the processor, working at the coop or attending the biodiesel workshop on April 1s, please join us in these efforts. If you don’t own a diesel car (yet) or heat your house with heating oil, we welcome anyone interested in sharing this adventure with us. There will be a $25 fee for the workshop but nothing but encouragement if you want to come learn and participate in the new coop.

Please email me or give me a call if you have questions or concerns that can’t wait until Tuesday, March 21st. The meeting will start at 6:30 and should last until 8:00 or 8:30. We will make some small batches of biodiesel to get the excitement building.

Please check out this website before the meeting. It is a great resource.


Jerry Robock

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Personal Presence

This is the first of many reflections on the state of the local grassroots biodiesel movement and the attempt to maintain autonomy from the agribusiness model of large scale refineries tied to federal subsidies designed to support industrial farming.

Biodiesel is a renewable, domestic and environmentally responsible opportunity to minimize our dependence on petroleum fuels but it is not the panacea for the future. Burning carbon based fuels contributes to global warming regardless of the original feedstock source. Biofuels can be an intermediary in the transition to other renewable and sustainable energy sources that have a far less impact on this global lifeboat.