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10/11/2007 ~ The Utility Board approved the purchase and use of bio-diesel for Keys Energy Services’ (KEYS) vehicles at their regular meeting on Wednesday, October 10th. Bio-diesel refers to a diesel-equivalent processed fuel, derived from biological sources (i.e.: soybean oil) which can be used in un-modified diesel-engine vehicles.

The Board approved the purchase and use of a 5-percent bio-diesel blend in KEYS’ fleet of 33 diesel vehicles for an estimated annual cost of $97,456.00 or $2.44 per gallon at approximately 40,000 gallons per year.

The 5-percent bio-diesel blend will reduce sulfur emissions from 500 parts-per-million* (ppm) to 14.25 ppm and green house gases emitted from diesel vehicles by 5-percent. The 5-percent bio-diesel blend will also save KEYS approximately $7,200 a year in fuel costs.

“While bio-diesel is still a relatively new fuel source, KEYS’ staff feels confident that the 5-percent blend will further our green initiatives and not adversely affect the performance of KEYS’ fleet of diesel vehicles,” said Lynne Tejeda, KEYS General Manager & CEO. See added that, “as our confidence with bio-diesel increases, so too could the bio-diesel blends that we use in our fleets.”

While various blends of bio-diesel are available in the market, KEYS staff learned that manufacturer’s warranties on vehicles made in or before 2006 would become void if bio-diesel was utilized at a volume greater than 5-percent.

The Board also approved a memorandum of understanding between KEYS and Reef Relief for a joint solar energy demonstration project being developed between the two agencies.

KEYS staff and Reef Relief are working to submit a grant proposal to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection seeking funding for approximately $100,000.00. The funding will assist both agencies in the design, purchase, and installation of a 10 kilowatt** solar photovoltaic array.

The array would be owned by and sited at the Reef Relief Environmental Center in Key West and KEYS staff would help to maintain the system. Reef Relief staff would work as the educational arm for KEYS on solar energy.

“At the Center,” said Tejeda, “KEYS customers and visitors to the Florida Keys could view an interconnected solar energy project and learn more about the benefits and the how-to of such a project.”

In order to submit a completed grant proposal, a memorandum of understanding between KEYS and Reef Relief was needed to define the scope of the project and the responsibility of each of the entities. If Reef Relief receives the grant funding, a formal agreement between KEYS and Reef Relief will be brought to the Utility Board for approval.

The regular meeting of the Utility Board took place at 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, October 10th, in the Louis Carbonell Board Room of the William Arnold Service Building, 1001 James Street, Key West.

* Parts-Per-Million – A term used to explain very dilute concentrations of substances. Just as percent means out of a hundred, parts-per-million or ppm means out of a million.

**Kilowatt – A unit of electrical power equal to 1,000 watts.

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