Are biodiesel buses worth the cost?UPDATED 8:33 PM HST Aug 22, 2014Video Transcript
easy being green... And it's not cheap either. KITV4 just obtained the numbers and some hard truths about the cleaner-burning fuel the city of Honolulu tried out in 2012. Here's KITV4's Andrew Pereira... It's all new at 6. 20 buses that hit the streets of Oahu in 2012 as part of a pilot project are now teaching a quick lesson in finance. Going green costs a lot of green. The 20 buses ran on 20- percent biodiesel. MIKE FORMBY: "WELL, IT WAS BEFORE MY TIME BUT THEY DID LOOK AT USING BIODIESEL AND SEE THE IMPACT THAT IT WOULD HAVE ON THE FLEET AND COST." Now a recent report shows clearly what that impact would be. Performance-wise ... the use of biodiesel means twice as much maintenance on fuel filters. It also resulted in algae growth... 35 percent of the vehicles showed it. Biodiesel was also shown to be 1.7 percent less fuel efficient. And when it comes to price, biodiesel costs nearly 40 cents more per gallon compared to regular diesel. That's even after a substantial break on state and county taxes. MIKE FORMBY: "THE REPORT BASICALLY SHOWED THAT THERE WOULD BE AN ADDITIONAL COST TO THE CITY IF WE DID A FLEET CONVERSION." If the city were to convert all 519 of its buses to B20 biodiesel, the report says the added cost would be $2.3 million dollars per year. That's enough to fund more than eight city bus routes for 12 months. However the executive director of the Blue Planet Foundation says the city shouldn't turn its back on biodiesel just yet. "OPENING HOOD" Jeff Mikulina uses 100 percent biodiesel in his VolksWagen, and says if the city were to convert its entire bus fleet to biodiesel, some of that extra expense would go to local companies producing the fuel. It's made completely from agricultural products or cooking oil used to fry foods like malasadas. JEFF MIKULINA: "YOU KNOW IT MAKES A LOT OF SENSE, WE'RE BASICALLY SUBSTITUTING A LOCAL PRODUCT INSTEAD OF SPENDING OUR MONEY IN THE MIDDLE EAST FOR IMPORTED OIL." Mikulina also notes biodiesel is a cleaner burning fuel and is 100 percent renewable. JEFF MIKULINA: "YOU KNOW YOU'RE NOT CONTRIBUTING TO CLIMATE CHANGE AS YOU WOULD WITH A DIESEL FUEL." Right now the city has no plans to utilize B20 biodiesel in any of its buses, and the mayor has not formulated a policy decision. The new report now goes before the City Council where members will discuss the merits and drawbacks of the renewable fuel. Kenny?