REMINDS ME OF A SONG:
DO YOU KNOW THE WAY TO...WESTON, SEATTLE, NEW LONDON AND, SAN JOSE...VENEZUELA POLICY REACHES...ALASKA!


CONTENTS OF THIS PAGE BELOW - CLICK HERE FOR FUEL CELL OPTION:


WE FIRST HEARD ABOUT IT HERE IN WESTON...


As dramatic as any theatre production: 
From The Bard, who showed concern for lower gas mileage and a quick but quiet getaway:  "A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!". - (Richard III, Act V, Scene IV).


Fairfield man crafts a plug-in Toyota
CT POST
By Michael C. Juliano, STAFF WRITER
Updated: 10/17/2009 08:16:29 AM EDT

To do his part for the environment, James Boncek of Fairfield has turned his 1993 Toyota Tercel into an all-electric vehicle with the help of Stamford-based power marketer MXenergy.

"It all begins with awareness of your actions and understanding what we do really matters," said Boncek, 26, who gained an awareness of vehicle emissions as a graduate from New England Technical Institute. "I know what comes out of the tailpipe and how it affects our environment."

Boncek said he spent the past five months replacing the gas engine on the Tercel, which he bought for $100 in 2004 with about 150,000 miles on the odometer, with an electric motor that runs off of two 12-volt batteries under the hood and 10 12-volt batteries in the
trunk.

"The real goal is not for me just to have an electric car and be green, but to show the rest of the world that having a green car is possible," he said. "The car has a great chassis on it and a new heart, so it'll go for another 200,000 miles. It's a complete recycle."

The vehicle, which has a top speed of about 70 miles per hour, can drive for about 50 miles before needing a six-to-eight-hour charge from the power grid, said Boncek, who works as the technical director for the Fairfield Theatre Company.

"It's pennies on the dollar in comparison to gas," he said, adding that his special Tercel does not need tune-ups, oil changes, spark plugs or any new parts associated with a gas engine. "There's
maintenance to an electric car."

The conversion, which cost about $10,000, would have not been possible without sponsorship from MXenergy, which also lends its support to the theater company, Boncek said.

"I had a very good working relationship with MXenergy, so I asked them for help," he said. "They were excited to be involved in this project."

MXenergy has given a "sizeable donation" to Boncek's conversion project because his electric vehicle serves as a way to educate the public on energy efficiency and responsible care of the environment, said Paul Lavella, MXenergy's marketing director, citing the Fairfield man's "environmental commitment."

The company, which provides natural gas and electric power in 39 areas throughout North America, recently initiated an MXenergy Wizard program in Michigan to offer rebates on insulation and other energy savers in exchange for home energy audits.

"We're getting a lot of interest because people are realizing the paybacks can be very dramatic," Lavella said.

The manufacture and use of electric vehicles greatly reduces U.S. dependence on foreign oil while preventing carbon monoxide emissions, said Bob Rice, president of the New England Electric Auto Association in Killingworth, who turned his 1989 Volkswagen into an electric car.

"Why can't all the big car companies do the same thing?" he said, adding that consumers can get electricity from the sun if they really want to go green. "Global warming is a real thing."



Prius: It’s Not Just a Car, It’s an Emergency Generator
NYTIMES
By Kate Galbraith
December 23, 2008, 9:58 am

Which would you rather have in a winter emergency? (Photos: Toyota (top); Daniel Steger/OpenPhoto.net)The Prius has a new use, and it does not involve driving. The Harvard Press — which serves the Massachusetts town of Harvard as opposed to the university — reported that the car’s battery helped keep the lights on for some locals during the recent ice storms.

The newspaper reports that John Sweeney, a resident who lost power, “ran his refrigerator, freezer, TV, woodstove fan, and several lights through his Prius, for three days, on roughly five gallons of gas.”

Said Mr. Sweeney, in an e-mail message to The Press: “When it looked like we were going to be without power for awhile, I dug out an inverter (which takes 12v DC and creates 120v AC from it) and wired it into our Prius.”

According to the newspaper, “the device allowed the engine to run every half hour, automatically charging the car battery and indirectly supplying the required power.”

In fact, this development, which comes at a tough time for Toyota, which makes the Prius, may not be not as strange as it sounds. Mr. Sweeney’s tinkering is along the lines of the “smart grid” technology that many utility executives and other experts say lies in our future. The idea is that the battery of an electric car — a plug-in, in most smart-grid scenarios — can feed power to the electricity grid when the grid needs it.

Even President-elect Barack Obama has endorsed this idea, as seen toward the end of this YouTube clip in which he said: “We’re going to have to have a smart grid if we want to use plug-in hybrids — then we want to be able to have ordinary consumers sell back the electricity that’s generated.”

Mr. Sweeney, out of necessity, got there first.



Chavez offering heat to villages
VENEZUELAN OIL: Controversial but free program in 3rd year.
Alaska Daily News
By KYLE HOPKINS, khopkins@adn.com
Published: November 28th, 2008 03:46 AM
Last Modified: November 28th, 2008 03:51 AM

With heating oil prices approaching $10 a gallon in rural Alaska and reports of neighbors stealing fuel from neighbors to warm their homes, a Venezuela-owned oil company plans to supply free fuel to villages again this winter.   That's what a Citgo executive who oversees the company's free heating oil program told the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council earlier this month, said council director Steve Osborne.

Citgo has provided roughly 15,000 Alaska village households 100 gallons of heating oil each for the past two winters. If the company donates the same amount this year, some families will save as much as $1,000 on their fuel bills. It's part of a program providing assistance to low-income communities in 23 states.

In the Inupiat village of Noatak, north of Kotzebue, heating oil sells for $9.79 a gallon. Villagers are crossing their fingers for the Citgo assistance while locking their fuel tanks under plywood and padlocks to protect them from thieves, said Eugene Monroe Sr., a local councilman.

"You got to be watching your tank all the time," he said.

But the free oil comes with political baggage, particularly in an oil-rich state with a potential presidential candidate for governor.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is a proud socialist who once referred to President Bush as "the devil" before the United Nations. He teamed with Iran to fund other nations' efforts to, as Chavez put it, "liberate themselves from the (U.S.) imperialist yoke."

The fact that the heating assistance is coming from Chavez led some eligible Alaska communities -- such as St. Paul -- to reject Citgo's gift in the past.  It would have been unpatriotic to participate, said Steve Senisch, a local councilman who voted against the gift in 2007.  He predicted the council will vote the same way this time.

"I don't think the rhetoric coming from Hugo Chavez has really changed in any way."

But Osborne said that villages that once opted out of the program, such as St. George, plan to participate this year as Citgo's program grows internationally and prices remain high in rural Alaska.  Melanie Edwards lives in Nome, where she's the vice president of the regional nonprofit that manages the heating-oil program for more than a dozen nearby villages.

"Last time I checked, (Citgo is) paying corporate taxes to the U.S. Treasury," she said. "And we figure until such time that the U.S. government is so offended by Venezuela and Citgo that they're not accepting any more funding, then we're not being unpatriotic by accepting the same."

RESOURCE REBATE HELPED

High fuel prices this year filled Alaska's coffers even as residents struggled to pay their bills. In response, the state gave all Alaskans a $1,200 "resource rebate" at the urging of Gov. Sarah Palin.

Palin's team is now working on the state budget and new state energy plan. She's also fresh off her vice presidential bid, where Sen. John McCain presented her as a leading expert on energy policy.  Palin's office did not respond to questions Wednesday about the governor's stance on the Citgo program, and whether she would call for another round of state-funded energy relief next year.  Anchorage Rep. Bob Lynn, a Republican, said he doubts the state would cut checks again because oil prices are dropping and the payment was meant to be a one-time measure.

Lynn said it's not right for Alaska to receive oil from Chavez. "We need to be able to take care of our own. The United States needs to do something about this," he said.

Still, Lynn added later, "It's one thing for me to speak philosophical thoughts here in the warmth of my home in Anchorage. It's another thing to have a wife and kids in danger of freezing to death out there."

VILLAGE COSTS LOCKED IN

Branson Tungiyan grew up in the St. Lawrence Island village of Gambell and is now the general manager.  Come January, when temperatures sink to 20 and 30 below, he'll burn up to 30 gallons of heating oil a week, he said.  But the cost has jumped from $4.75 a gallon last year to $7.65. And unlike the cities, where local fuel prices dip along with the national market, the village price is locked in place all winter.

It won't change again until the next supply barge arrives sometime this summer, Tungiyan said.  Villagers are turning to hauling driftwood that washes ashore about 10 or 15 miles out of town and burning it for heat, he said.

"We feel for our government, but we also have more concern to our families' survival to have heat in our homes ... That's what I meant by leaving politics to the politicians."

This week, the local tribal government approved a gift of its own -- 30 gallons of heating oil per household, to help with the bills, he said.

PROGRAM FOR U.S. POOR

Citgo Petroleum Corp. started the heating assistance program in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans and Chavez toured poor neighborhoods in the Bronx, officials said in 2006.

Venezuela is one of the world's top oil-producing nations and now provides low-cost or free fuel in 23 states. In 2006, New Hampshire refused the free oil, saying it was an attempt at political grandstanding by Chavez. But this year state officials changed their minds in the face of rising fuel prices, according to The Associated Press.  Company spokesman Fernando Garay, in Houston, declined to talk about the company's plans for Alaska this week. "We cannot discuss it at this point in time and once the program is approved, we will release all the pertaining information."

But over the past two winters, Citgo donated roughly 4 million gallons of oil worth more than $15 million, the company said.  About three weeks ago, a Citgo executive called Osborne at the AITC and said the company was "planning on doing the program" again this year.  The paperwork isn't finished, Osborne said.

So is there a chance Citgo wouldn't provide the aid?

"Boy, I don't think there is a way. They're good at their word," Osborne said.

The gift is available to anyone who lives in an Alaska community that is more than 70 percent Alaska Native, said Osborne, who hopes to see the program expand to other rural towns and even cities such as Anchorage and Fairbanks in the future.

Citgo doesn't actually send oil to Alaska.

Last year, the company gave oil to a nonprofit, Citizens Energy Corp. -- founded by former U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy -- which in turn sold the oil and delivered the money to the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council, which manages the program in Alaska.  Fewer households appear eligible for the program this year because local nonprofits are finding fewer families living in Alaska Native communities, Osborne said.

"You always hear about villages closing or people moving out of villages. ... the numbers that I've received so far would seem to indicate that is the case," he said.

CONCERN IS GENERAL

With Alaskans in villages and cities alike calling for help with energy bills this year, governments at all levels are kicking in money to curb costs.

Rocketing fuel prices and worries of a migration from villages to cities dominated the Alaska Federation of Natives annual meeting in October, where Sen. Lisa Murkowski said the federal government is doubling the amount of money it's sending to Alaska to help low-income families heat their homes.  Congress approved $34 million for Alaska this year through the federal program, which is called Low Income Home Energy Assistance and sends aid to families with incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

Households that make slightly more money can apply for a similar state program created by the Legislature this year. Lawmakers appropriated $10 million for that program and the money is being distributed now, said Ron Kreher, chief of field operations for the state Division of Public Assistance.

President-elect Barack Obama's transition team has invited the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council and other tribal leaders from around the country to meet in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 8, Osborne said.  Obama's team wants to hear two or three priorities that the tribes think the new president should focus on, he said.

"One of them will be, I think, that energy crisis."

Meantime, the state is working on a long-term energy plan that's expected to be unveiled in time for the Legislature to consider in January.



Guilford man eyes city site for green venture

By Mary E. O'Leary, New Haven Register Topics Editor
Tuesday, November 25, 2008 12:37 PM EST


NEW HAVEN — When Gus Kellogg pulls onto his business site in the North Yard of New Haven Harbor, his biodiesel Volkswagen bug is dwarfed by the petroleum storage tanks looming on the west flank of the property.  The Guilford resident, who has been distributing biodiesel, a mixture of vegetable oil feedstock and methanol, for three years, is taking his green venture to the next level with a plan to produce the sustainable fuel in New Haven.

"When our plant comes online, we expect to produce 20 million gallons within five years. It may seem like a drop in the bucket, but it is a significant step in what we believe is the right direction," said Kellogg, who is proceeding through necessary local approvals.

There are almost 175 biodiesel plants, built or under construction, in the U.S., Kellogg said, but only one in Connecticut and three in New England.  In New Haven, the Magellan Terminal Holdings tanks, some with capacity of 100,000 barrels, will dwarf the 10,700-barrel tanks Kellogg plans to build in the first phase of his proposal for 100 Wheeler St. Two self-contained processing units and a truck-loading rack are part of the phase.

He said the business would operate 24/7 and employ 15 full-time workers. In a second stage, Kellogg plans construction of a 8,266-square-foot building to house an office and additional processing units.  So far, the City Plan Commission has given him a favorable coastal site review; the Board of Zoning Appeals votes on it Dec. 9.  Kellogg hopes to work out an arrangement with Magellan to blend biodiesel with diesel for heating and vehicular use, while long-term he would like to use the adjacent Quinnipiac River for transport to other regions.

"New Haven for us is a really logical site. It's very ideal because it is the largest oil cargo port between New York and Boston," Kellogg said. If he can't sell all of his product in New Haven, he said, he will look for buyers throughout New England.  The 100 Wheeler St. site is home to eight businesses, many in buildings renovated by Ronsal North LLC. Kellogg's operation would take place on less than one-half acre of a 6-acre site with a view of Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge.

He hopes to catch the slow rising curve of consumer interest in the product. Already in Europe, more than half of vehicles have diesel engines, with more options coming on the American market.  While the stock market see-saws and bank credit is scarce, Kellogg remains optimistic it is a good time to pursue a green agenda if he can get state help in putting his financing package together.

Also, the incoming Barack Obama administration in Washington is expected to give top priority to energy independence and creation of green jobs.

"It truly can be a job creator both on the farming side, the processing side and technology side," Kellogg said.

His company, Greenleaf Biofuels, was one of seven approved last week for $350,000 in state reimbursement grants to the biodiesel industry. He got $50,000 for purchase of a 6,900-gallon biodiesel tank trailer.

The state had put $5 million aside for grants for the industry, but Gov. M. Jodi Rell has targeted $2.5 million to cut from the program as part of closing a $300 million budget deficit this year. Local state representatives, however, argue this is not the place to achieve savings.

"Cuts in alternative energy would be destructive and take us in a direction opposite from where we should be going," said state Sen. Edward Meyer, D-Guilford. Monday, negotiations between Rell's office and the General Assembly were whittling the cut to $450,000.

Derek Slap, spokesman for Senate Pro Tempore Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said Williams "wants to make sure that what we cut doesn't make the economy worse."

Kellogg said his typical customers now are farmers, boaters and drivers of diesel cars. The biggest dealer he delivers to is Hale Hill Biofuels in Branford.  His proposal is to use recycled cooking oil from National Rendering Co. in the New Jersey and Boston areas, but he is in discussions with a Connecticut distributor. The company's commitment, however, is to use the most sustainable feedstock, which down the road could be algae.

The biodiesel waste product is glycerin, which will be sold for conversion to soaps and detergents.  His target is to break into the "huge" heating oil market, which is typically sold with a 5 percent to 20 percent ratio of biodiesel and diesel.

Kellogg is president of the Connecticut Biodiesel/Bioheat Association. He recently brought on Yale professor Paul Anastas, also known as the father of green chemistry, as the firm's chief technology officer.

Kellogg, 39, who worked in the tech sector, said running a biodiesel company is a political and economic statement.

"It's all about energy security and cleaning up the environment," Kellogg said.

An indication of the viability of the biodiesel industry is Magellan's investment at its East Street terminal, where it has a 150,000 barrel storage capacity for biodiesel and a blending system that allows for a truck to create a 2 percent to 40 percent blend for diesel fuel and a 2 percent to 20 percent blend in heating oil, according to its spokesman, Bruce Heine.



Meet The Future Face Of Biodiesel:  Once rendered into pet food, chicken fat is the latest domestic product to move to the fuel pump
DAY
By Christopher Leonard, Associated Writer 
Published on 1/7/2007

 
Jerry Bagby is typical of the oil men who are prospecting for a fortune in the Midwestern biofuels boom. He's convinced there's oil in these hills — and he's found a well that no one else is using.

Bagby and a longtime friend have cobbled together $5 million to build a new biodiesel plant on the lonely croplands outside this southeast Missouri town. They're betting they can hit paydirt by exploiting a generally overlooked natural resource that's abundant in these parts — chicken fat.

There's a virtual gusher of the stuff at a nearby Tyson Foods Inc. poultry plant. Currently, the low-quality fat is shipped out of state to be rendered and used as a cheap ingredient in pet food, soap and other products.

Bagby and his partner Harold Williams plan to refine the gooey substance, mix it with soybean oil and produce about 3 million gallons of biodiesel annually.

Today, only a tiny fraction of U.S. biodiesel is made from chicken fat, but that seems likely to change. The rising cost of soybean oil — which accounts for roughly 90 percent of all biodiesel fuel stock — is pushing the industry to exploit cheap and plentiful animal fats.

The nation's biggest meat corporations have taken notice. Tyson Foods announced in November it has established a renewable energy division that will be up and running during 2007. Competitors Perdue Farms Inc. and Smithfield Foods Inc. are making similar moves.

As meatpackers enter the field, they bring massive amounts of fuel stock that could make biodiesel cheaper and more plentiful.

The shift to animal fat as a fuel stock could be key to making the budding biodiesel industry a reliable fuel source for U.S. trucking fleets, said Vernon Eidman, a professor of economics at the University of Minnesota who has extensively studied the biofuels industry.

Eidman estimates that within five years, the U.S. will produce 1 billion gallons of biodiesel, and half of it will be made from animal fat. By that time soybean-based biodiesel will account for about 20 percent of the total, he said.

For fuel refiners like Bagby, the allure of animal fat is clear. Soybean oil costs 33 cents a pound while chicken fat costs 19 cents. He only plans to include soybean oil in his blend because it adds necessary lubrication for engine parts.

“Soybean oil is more expensive than other products, so we just use enough of it to make the system run clean,” Bagby said, gesturing toward a row of pipes and vats being installed in his new refinery.

For companies like Tyson, the attraction is simple. Being the nation's biggest meat company, Tyson is also the biggest producer of leftover fat from chicken, cattle and hogs.

Tyson is keeping the specifics of its renewable fuels division under tight wraps. But Tyson Vice President Jeff Webster told a recent investment conference the potential is clear. Tyson produces about 2.3 billion pounds of chicken fat annually from its poultry plants. That's about 300 million gallons that could be converted to fuel.

The market for biodiesel and ethanol really started to boom in August 2005, after passage of the federal Energy Policy Act, experts say. The bill set a new standard requiring the U.S. to use 7 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2012.

While it's always been cheaper, animal fat was initially overlooked as a biodiesel fuel stock because of its uneven quality, Eidman said.

When the energy bill passed, soybean oil was already widely sold as a food additive. Biodiesel refiners could depend on its quality because the oil was marketed and certified under a strict guidelines, Eidman said.

Animal fat also has its technical drawbacks. It clouds up at higher temperatures than soy-based biodiesel, which means it might thicken up when used in colder, northern cities, Eidman said. That might limit distribution to southern areas where temperatures don't often drop below 40 degrees or so.

While these factors kept animal fat in the background, the biodiesel industry has hit a turning point.

Increasing demand for soybean oil as a fuel and as a food is making the price creep up. It now makes economic sense to invest in new technology to process animal fat into usable form as a fuel stock.

Tyson and Perdue are already experimenting with biodiesel. Both companies have started using biodiesel in their trucking fleets.

Salisbury, Md.-based Perdue is also selling soybean oil as a biodiesel fuel stock through the company's Grain and Oilseed Division. The company also said this summer it's studying plans to build its own biofuels plants or invest in others.

Smithfield Foods has established its own biofuels division. The Smithfield BioEnergy group is studying how to turn hog waste into fuel and has also started producing biodiesel from vegetable oil. The company didn't comment on the division, but recent financial filings say the biodiesel program is still losing money because of startup costs.

Having a massive new source of fuel stock is a welcome development for the biodiesel industry, said Amber Thurlo Pearson, a spokeswoman for the National Biodiesel Board.

“More biodiesel in the marketplace could help make biodiesel's cost even more competitive with diesel fuel,” Pearson said.

The board estimates that U.S. biodiesel production is tripling annually, going from 25 million gallons in 2004 to 75 million gallons last year. The final tally for 2006 should be between 150 and 225 million.

Biodiesel costs about $1 a gallon more to produce than conventional diesel, but federal tax breaks for fuel distributors help hide that cost from consumers.

Bagby said his plant will be up and running by the end of January. His equipment can refine soybean oil, cotton seed oil and animal fat. That gives him flexibility to use whatever's cheapest on the commodity markets. His first batches will be made from soybean oil because it's easiest to get the equipment calibrated.

After that? Soybean oil has a long way to drop before it's as affordable as chicken fat.

“You can see the difference in cost,” he said.




And what of other alternatives?

Hybrids Gain Traction Locally As Gas Prices Soar 
DAY
By Patricia Daddona    
Published on 6/9/2008 

More consumers in southeastern Connecticut are trying to counteract the $4.27 statewide average price of gasoline - currently third-highest in the nation - by going green.  Their reward for driving a hybrid car? Increased fuel economy, reduced emissions, federal tax credits and sales tax exemptions that went into effect April 1 - but not necessarily huge savings over time, experts say.

”People only see a huge slap in the face they're getting at the pump, but you won't make up money in gas savings alone” by buying a hybrid instead of a small, fuel-efficient car, warned Mike Quincy, a content specialist for Consumer Reports' Connecticut Auto Testing Center.

Still, the demand for hybrids is high. In showrooms at Cardinal Honda in Groton and Girard Toyota in New London, and on the outdoor lots, there's not a hybrid to be seen.  That's because Japanese production can't keep up with demand. Waits are two to four weeks for a Civic Hybrid and three months or more for the Toyota Prius, company spokesmen said.

Customers have been offering Girard salesman Tony Arruda up to $5,000 above the base sticker price of $23,435 for a Prius. He asks them to put down a deposit and join the growing waiting list while manufacturers try to match demand.  Cardinal Honda is selling eight hybrids a month and Girard Toyota is selling 10, compared with five and six a month respectively last year, and spokesmen there say they would sell more if more cars were available.

”The demand is there, and they can't produce them fast enough,” Arruda said. “We have 10 to 12 people a day that want to buy them, and we can't take orders for them because we don't know how many we're going to get.”

Hybrid-electric vehicles combine the benefits of gasoline engines and electric motors, improve mileage, increase power and can add extra power for electronics and tools, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.  By 2015, sales of hybrid cars could more than triple and may comprise as much as 7 percent of the car market, up from less than 3 percent today, according to a forecast by J.D. Power and Associates, said spokesman John Tews.

In 2008, the firm estimates there will have been 422,000 sold in the United States, he said. The company is a market research firm with a strong focus on the automotive market.  In May, the Ford F150 pickup truck, long the best-selling vehicle in country, dropped from first place to fifth, said Cody Lusk, president of the American International Automobile Dealers Association.

His group represents some 11,000 international franchises, but not the Big Three - Ford, GM and Chrysler.  Now, more and more car buyers are seeking out high mileage vehicles and hybrids, he said.

”We're requesting as many as we can get,” said Rob Bonosconi, Cardinal Honda's new car sales manager. “If they dropped a truck off with 10 of them now, we'd probably deliver them all in a couple of days.”

The Ford Escape, a hybrid SUV made overseas, is also in short supply, said Whaling City Ford Vice President Charles Primus.

”We could sell all the hybrids Ford gives us, but Ford is not producing enough,” Primus said. “We're disappointed. We know Ford is working on it.”

In America, gas prices have been artificially low compared to the rest of the world, and only now are catching up, Lusk said. 

”Some of the industry saw this coming, but it's hard to convince people to buy fuel-efficient vehicles when gas is $2.50 a gallon,” he said.

Hybrid Owners of America, a trade group with more than 500 members, found in a survey that 44 percent of drivers said in January they would consider a hybrid if gasoline topped $4 a gallon, said spokeswoman Ailis Aaron Wolf.

”It wasn't that long ago that people thought hybrids were this pie-in-the-sky idea,” she said.

Despite the increased popularity, Quincy, of Consumer Reports, warns that the higher prices for a hybrid still can't be recovered just with savings on gas.

”The premium cost for a hybrid is going to take many, many years of driving to overcome the difference” in cost compared to a four-cylinder passenger car, Quincy said.

Small, fuel-efficient cars are making a huge comeback, and are cheaper than hybrids, he added. The Toyota Corolla, for instance, costs about $6,000 less than the Prius, and averages 32 mpg. The Prius averages 44 mpg but costs more to buy.  Analysts at www.hybridcars.com warn that the lengthy waiting lists may discourage Prius and other hybrid buyers, but dealers like Arruda say the interest in them remains high.

”I think the U.S. is overdue to get in line with most of the world,” Quincy said. “I think above $3 and maybe $4 a gallon might be here to stay. And industry experts are saying this run on small cars, this is here to stay.”



Shays' energy bill puts efficiency first
By A.J. O'CONNELL, Hour Staff Writer
January 20, 2006

STAMFORD — More hybrid cars on the road, more companies subsidizing their employees' train fares, doubled funding for Energy Star Programs, more local authority in energy decisions and no tax breaks for oil companies.

These are some of the things that may come to pass if the U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays' Energy For Our Future Act is passed by Congress this year.

Shays, R-4, speaking at a Thursday morning press conference at the Stamford Water Pollution Control Authority, detailed the bill, said "Our country has ignored the environmental energy relationship. In Europe they can produce twice as much for the same energy costs. It's more expensive there, so they value it."

The bill proposes a list of incentives encouraging energy efficiency for individuals, as well as for municipalities, states and also for industries — if passed, the law would require all newly-manufactured cars to get 40 miles to the gallon gas mileage, and would offer double tax credits to people who buy the more energy-efficient hybrid cars and also offer the automotive companies incentives to develop more efficient vehicles.

The legislation aims to make public transportation more attractive to commuters; offering subsidies on fares and authorizing grants that will allow the development of more energy efficient trains and buses. The legislation will also offer tax credits to those who retro-fit homes with insulation, or to those who build new efficient housing.

Regional environmental groups applauded Shays' efforts. Representatives from the Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, Save the Sound, ConnPIRG, the League of Conservation Voters and Republicans for Environmental Protection were on hand to applaud the legislation.

Veteran lawmaker Julie Belaga, now a spokeswoman for the League of Conservation Voters, was one of a handful of conservation-minded activists who came out to support the bill. She says that it's imperative that the government seek out new sources of energy.

"We have to do something immediately," she said.

Belaga showed strong support of the bill at Thursday's conference, whispering "yes" when Shays announced that the legislation would remove the tax break awarded to fossil fuel companies.

"This is no longer a pie in the sky," she said. "This is possible."

Formally titled The Energy for Our Future Act, H.R. 4384 was introduced this past November by Shays and U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchley, D-N.Y. In that time it has garnered the support of six other congressmen; five Democrats, one Republican and one Independent. According to Sarah Moore, of Shays' office, the congressmen are working with environmental groups to get more co-sponsors for the bill.

Currently, the bill is in the Committee on Energy and Commerce, chaired by U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas.

There are those who feel that an energy efficiency bill will not be able to pass this year, owing to a major energy efficiency bill that was passed earlier in 2005.

"That was several years in the making," said Jim Owen, a spokesperson for the Edison Electric Institute in Washington, D.C. "I imagine that the congressional appetite for taking up those issues again is modest at this point."



Rise in deaths adds to cyclists' anger:
 
A total of 21 cyclists have lost their lives in traffic accidents in New York this year.
The HOUR (A.P.)
November 23, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — Jen Shao, the immigrant owner of a Chinatown souvenir shop, wasn't trying to make a political statement as she pedaled her bicycle through downtown Manhattan. The 65-year-old woman biked, her family told reporters, because she found it easier than walking.

But her September death beneath the wheels of a tour bus was one of an increased number of biking fatalities this year, adding a melancholy edge to long-running tensions over the presence of bicycles on the city's crowded streets. 

With a month left in the year, police records show 21 cyclists have died in traffic accidents in New York, up from 15 in all of 2004. 

The number may just be a statistical anomaly, transportation officials said. Between 2000 and 2004, traffic accidents killed 82 cyclists in the city, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — an average of about 16 deaths per year. This year's small spike has further angered a riding community already upset by what they perceive as an unfriendly view of bikers among some drivers and city officials.

Within weeks of Shao's death, a group of artists installed a tribute at the spot where she fell; a bicycle, painted white like a ghost, and a plaque inscribed with her name.

Kevin Caplicki, whose group Visual Resistance has created six "ghost bikes" this year to memorialize fallen cyclists, said they want people to rethink the American notion of the car as king. 

"This form of transportation and the people who use it are really invisible," he said of the city's bicyclists. The memorials are the work of some of the same cycling enthusiasts behind "Critical Mass," a once-a-month nighttime group bike ride through the city's streets.

The rides — held partly for fun, and partly to celebrate liberal, environmentalist ideals — began 10 years ago.

During last year's Republican National Convention, thousands of political activists temporarily swelled the ranks of the ride and police responded with a crackdown. Hundreds of riders were arrested on charges of parading without a permit. The rides have since shrunk to a few hundred bikes or less, but police action has continued. Dozens of arrests are now routine at the gatherings.

City officials also sued to stop the rides altogether, maintaining they are illegal without a permit. The cyclists won some early rounds in the litigation, but the case is still pending.

Cyclists in Brooklyn also have griped that their bikes were confiscated en masse from spots near a subway station, allegedly for violating sidewalk clutter laws. And members of the New York Bike Messenger Association say police have conducted ticketing blitzes this fall, stopping and citing riders for minor infractions such as not having a bell.

"For some reason, in the last year and a half the city has decided, 'That's enough' and now it's trying in every way possible to discourage cycling," said Bill DiPaola, executive director of the pro-bike group Time's Up. A police spokesman did not respond to requests for an interview to discuss the department's interaction with cyclists.

Bike advocates enjoy a better relationship with the city's Department of Transportation, which in the past few years has done plenty to encourage cycling, including the creation of more than 100 miles of new bike lanes. Those steps contributed to a growing number of riders citywide. An annual survey recorded 16,292 bicyclists pedaling past a series of checkpoints during a 12-hour period in 2005, compared to 12,757 five years earlier.

In the early 1980s, the same surveys found between 6,000 and 7,000 bike trips, said the transportation department's bike program coordinator, Andrew Vesselinovitch.

Transportation officials, at the request of cycling groups, recently pledged a study of all city bike fatalities from the past decade in an attempt to determine whether some or all could have been prevented.  Vesselinovitch said planning for the study has already begun.

Bike advocates also have asked the city to more aggressively cite motorists for aggressive driving and commit to quicker implementation of a years-old master plan for more bike lanes and recreational pathways. New York City should be an ideal place for cyclists with its wide, one-way streets, said Noah Budnick, projects director for the group Transportation Alternatives.

"New Yorkers love to ride, and there are a lot of characteristics of the city that make this a great place for riding," Budnick said.



Veggie Oil Takes The High Cost Out Of Diesel Power 
By Steve Grant , The Hartford Courant  
Published on 3/4/2007
 
Hartford -- Georges Zidi is the real frugal gourmet.

Zidi is executive chef at the venerable and private Hartford Club, where members dine in style in a Georgian-revival townhouse.

But Zidi lives in Yorktown, in Westchester County, N.Y., and endures a round-trip commute of 180 miles daily to whip up dishes like roasted duck with raspberry sauce.

His gasoline bill was running $700 a month until he discovered he could raid the restaurant's deep-fat fryer — and the fryers in several restaurants back home, too.

Zidi is among a comparative handful of people who have converted a diesel-engine car or truck to burn vegetable oil. It can be done, and it works, and it can save a lot of money.

“Now I spend a maximum of $80 to $120 a month,” he said.

The chef took his Mercedes sedan to Votech Vegetable Oil Fuel Systems in Mahopac, N.Y., where co-owner Wally Little installed a conversion system that allows Zidi to run on either petroleum diesel fuel or vegetable oil.

There's a little bit of a hassle involved to burn restaurant waste oils, but not much. Little says the oil must be dewatered and filtered to remove any particles larger than 1 micron. Materials for a home-filtering system are available for less than $200, he said.

Restaurants are happy to give away the tired oil in their fryers because otherwise they would have to pay to get rid of it. Zidi of course has first dibs on the Hartford Club oil.

The only other wrinkle is that a diesel engine does not start well with vegetable oil in winter. Drivers like Zidi start the engine with petroleum diesel fuel and then flip a switch to burn vegetable oil once the engine warms. For that reason, Little says the system is not for people who make a lot of short trips around town. For people with long commutes, however, the system can pay for itself in no time.

Zidi's conversion cost $2,200. Little said a new proprietary system he is selling and for which he has a patent pending runs $3,000 to $5,000.

“The initial outlay — sure, it hurts,” Little said. “but once you have reached your break-even point, it becomes, 'Why didn't I do this years ago?'”

As for Zidi, he's waiting for summer, when he won't even need the petroleum diesel fuel to start the car. “Then I run free for any miles I have to drive,” he said.

 



All Oiled Up And Ready To Go;  Vegetable oil turns this Mercedes on
DAY
By Stoll 
Published on 9/5/2006

New London — Dave Sugrue's car used to get 28 miles per gallon on the highway.

Now it gets 28 miles per gallon on the “fryway,” he tells the people who approach him daily about the “powered by vegetable oil” sign on the rear window of the 1983 Mercedes-Benz 300.

Sugrue and his 13-year-old son, Richard, recently spent a day and a half — and less than $1,000 — converting the diesel car to run on vegetable oil.

As manager at Ocean Beach Park, Sugrue gets free fuel: used oil from the park's food-service fryers. The cost savings are nice, he said, but he also made the change for environmental reasons.

“It's a renewable energy source. In this particular case it's a recycled material that would otherwise end up in a landfill. The other nice thing about it is the emissions are far lower,” Sugrue said.

The car runs the same on vegetable oil as it does on diesel fuel, Sugrue said. The only noticeable difference is a french-fry smell.

Sugrue has put 250 miles on the car since the conversion. “Other than a couple of dogs chasing us, we haven't had any problems,” he said.

His success with the system has prompted Jeff Mullen, owner of Action Amusements and Vending — the park's rides, water slide and arcade — to convert four of his own cars. The first of the kits from Massachusetts-based Greasecar, the same kind used by Sugrue, has arrived, Mullen said.

The Greasecar system, which works on diesel vehicles only, involves the installation of a secondary fuel system parallel to the first. Sugrue's car sports a tank in his trunk for the vegetable oil, which he filters at home before using it in the car.

Because vegetable oil is thicker than diesel fuel, it must be heated until it reaches the same viscosity before being injected into the engine. The Greasecar system uses radiator fluid to heat the vegetable oil in the fuel tank, lines and filter.

The system requires driving for about three miles on diesel fuel every time the car is started in order to heat the vegetable oil, Sugrue said. Then a simple switch inside the car, activated while driving, makes the car burn vegetable oil instead of diesel.

“You go down the road, throw a switch and start saving money,” Sugrue said.

Upon reaching his destination, Sugrue purges the fuel lines of vegetable oil for 30 seconds so the oil doesn't solidify and clog the lines.

Sugrue and Mullen are among thousands of Greasecar clients across the United States and in Canada, said J.P. Levy of the Greasecar sales and service staff. Greasecar founder Justin Carven developed the system as a college thesis project and founded the company in 2000.

The company has been growing ever since, Levy said. “Some people are just concerned about the environment. For most people, it's because of the cost-savings,” he added.

A number of municipalities with diesel cars and companies with fleets of diesel vehicles are looking into the system, Levy said.

According to Greasecar, the company is one of four major suppliers of conversion kits that allow diesel cars to run on new or used vegetable oil.

•••••That isn't the only way to go green.

New London police Sgt. Eric Deltgen has been running his 1979 Mercedes-Benz 240 on a mixture of vegetable oil, kerosene and diesel gasoline since last October.

The method, which he calls “the German method,” requires no vehicle modifications. Instead, Deltgen mixes 20-gallon batches of his own fuel, 85 percent of which is used vegetable oil he gets from restaurants.

He uses about a gallon of diesel gasoline, two gallons of kerosene and 17 gallons of used fryer oil for every batch. Additives remove moisture from the gas and oil. The whole process takes about 15 minutes, Deltgen said. After the mixture is allowed to stand for another 15 minutes, it can be pumped right into his car's gas tank.

Deltgen estimates that the required parts — a pump, barrel, filters and hosing available at any Wal-Mart or Home Depot — cost him $150 to $200. The fuel costs him about 50 cents a gallon to make, he has calculated.

His experiment met with skepticism from colleagues at the New London Police Department. “All the boys at work have been busting my chops, calling me Frialator, french fry, McDonald's boy,” Deltgen said. “Now a couple of the guys are asking me how to do it.”

Deltgen is a mechanic, but he said the method he uses, which he learned from the Diesel Secret Energy Web site, can be accomplished by anyone who can follow instructions and do “a little bit of third-grade math.”

The method used by Deltgen is not the same as biodiesel, a third environmentally friendly alternative to diesel fuel produced in a chemical process.


 



Veggies Good For Car Too, Local Man Finds;  Using Vegetable Oil (along With Diesel) For Fuel Is Good For The Wallet — And The Environment
DAY
By Ethan Rouen

Published on 4/24/2006
 
Mystic — Steven Mitchell is a different kind of greaser.

Unlike the gearheads who trick out their hot rods to guzzle gas and burn rubber, Mitchell recently modified his 2003 diesel Volkswagen Jetta to burn vegetable oil.

On Saturday, Mitchell, a Mystic resident who works as a supervisor at a biotechnology company in Rhode Island, drove to Salem, Providence and around Groton, using only about one-eighth of a tank of diesel fuel.

This is because, after the car warms up, it runs entirely on vegetable oil.

In March, after a six-month wait, Mitchell had a vegetable oil conversion kit installed in his car. The modification allows the vehicle to switch between running on diesel and running on the more environmentally friendly “veggie oil.”

Built by Greasecar, a Massachusetts company, the system was installed by a mechanic in Northampton, Mass. The conversion cost Mitchell about $1,700.

The system includes two pumps and a vegetable oil filter under the hood. The filter is wrapped by a spiral of copper tube that fills with heated antifreeze to warm the viscous oil. A tank shaped like a tire holds the oil in the trunk, where a spare tire would normally go. A gauge and rocker switch are mounted on the center console to monitor fuel levels and allow the driver to switch between fuels.

Because the vegetable oil is more viscous than diesel, the car needs to warm up for about five minutes on diesel to 190 degrees before Mitchell can send the vegi oil into the system. When he switches over to the cleaner-burning oil, the car still has the same kick it did when running on diesel.

“It's a zippy little car,” he said.

Mitchell, whose commute to work is about 50 miles, said his diesel-fuel bill has dropped dramatically since he began using the vegetable oil. Every 3,000 miles, he needs to change the vegi filter, which costs about $15.

At BJ's Wholesale Club, where he buys his vegetable oil, Mitchell pays about $3.30 a gallon, but he's hoping to find some restaurants willing to give away their waste oil. He asked that any restaurant interested in having their oil hauled away for free contact him at (860) 536-0260.

The conversion has made financial sense for Mitchell as crude oil hit another record high of $75 a barrel Friday, pushing the cost of a gallon of regular gasoline to more than $3 in many places.

Still, Mitchell said the system is a perk on many other levels. For one thing, burning vegetable oil releases fewer toxic emissions than diesel or gasoline.

“It's part of the natural cycle,” he said of the conversion process.

The system also uses a product that is in abundance and can be produced in the United States. In his State of the Union address earlier this year, President Bush called on Americans to reduce their dependency on foreign oil, much of which comes from countries with political strife or hostility toward the United States.

Experts have blamed the rise in gasoline prices partly on the political unrest in Nigeria and the hostile relationship between Iran and the United States.

Finally, Mitchell said, a mass switch to vegetable oil will benefit the American farmer, who will be called upon to produce it and will tip the trade balance in favor of the United States.

“It just makes so much sense,” he said after listing his reasons for making the change. “I get the temperature up to 190, hit the button, and off I go.”



Grease in her tank: Weston woman converts her car to run partially on vegetable oil
By Lisa Chamoff, Stamford ADVOCATE Staff Writer
April 26, 2004
WESTON -- When Etta Kantor has to fill the tank of her 2003 Volkswagen Jetta, she doesn't head to a gas station.  She goes to a Chinese restaurant in Westport.

There, she picks up containers of waste oil that had been used to cook spring rolls and scallion pancakes. She filters it twice, then pours it into her
15-gallon tank. The sticker in the back window of her Volkswagen reads "Powered by vegetable oil."  Kantor, 58, bought the diesel engine Volkswagen last fall. She ordered an $800 conversion kit from a Massachusetts company called Greasecar and, after a quick installation, turned it into a "veggie car" that gets 40 miles to the gallon.

Though not widely used, pure vegetable oil is environmentally friendly and generally much cheaper than gasoline and diesel fuel, advocates say. Kantor gets the Chinese restaurant's waste oil for free.  As gas prices climb, people are looking for alternatives, said Justin Carven, who founded Greasecar in 2001.

"It's growing in popularity, especially with the way fuel prices are going and the way people are feeling about the political situation in regard to petroleum fuel," Carven said. "We have over 300 customers around the country using our conversion system. There is also a growing number of people around the country doing homemade conversions."

Vegetable oil works only in diesel engines. The car must be started on diesel then, once it is heated to about 190 degrees -- after about 10 minutes -- Kantor flips a switch above the radio that allows the car to run on the vegetable oil.  "As you're driving and you change it, you can't even feel the difference," she said.  Before parking the car long enough for it to cool off, Kantor presses a button to purge the system of oil so it doesn't solidify.  Kantor looked into fueling her car with vegetable oil after taking a course on sustainable living through the Northwest Earth Institute.

"I've always been concerned about the environment and the planet," Kantor said.  "This course in sustainability made me think I should do more."    Shortly after she put down a deposit on a Toyota Prius, a gas-electric hybrid car, Kantor heard about vegetable oil fuel. She researched Greasecar's Web site and decided that it was a better choice for the environment than the hybrid. She canceled the order for the Toyota.

"I told my husband," she said. "He thought I was crazy."  After the car made a trip to the Kantor's house in Vermont, Nate Kantor became a believer.  "I was very skeptical," Nate Kantor said. "(Now) I think it's the neatest thing."  The concept is not as strange as it sounds, Carven said. Rudolf Diesel designed the original diesel engine to run on several fuels, including vegetable oil.

"It's an agriculturally produced fuel source . . . and, for the most part, people are using waste vegetable oil," Carven said. "When you look at the big picture like that, it makes sense."  One drawback is that in winter, the oil sometimes takes longer to heat up, Carven said.  Though Kantor said she generally uses her car only to run errands, 29-year-old Aaron Schlechter of Bridgeport drives his veggie car each day to New York City, where he works as an environmental consultant. He estimates he drives more than 1,000 miles a week.

"I hate being in the car, but the only way I can assuage my guilt is by driving a vegetable oil car," Schlechter said.  Like Kantor, Schlechter drives a converted 2003 Jetta station wagon. When Schlechter gets waste oil from restaurants, he takes 60 to 70 gallons at a time, which he filters with a special pump and a device similar to a water filter.  "I always speak to the restaurant owner first," Schlechter said. "I try to build a relationship and get them excited about it, too."

In winter, if the oil is left outside too long it congeals, making it harder to filter.  Sometimes the restaurant owner kept the oil inside for him, but often during the winter Schlechter's car ran on just diesel.  Kantor said she had a problem just once, when she started the car and realized it was running on vegetable oil that hadn't been properly heated.

"It was bucking a little bit," she said.  Another advantage to using pure vegetable oil is the smell, Kantor said.  "The exhaust smells like French fries and popcorn," she said.


Oil prices 'drive US action on climate'
Americans still have a love affair with cars
The environment itself is not the burning issue at the White House - but the price of gas is.
Stephen Evans
BBC North America business correspondent
June 30, 2005

The pressure on the US president to do something on global warming along the lines sought by other world leaders comes not from traditional green activists, but from rising oil prices.

Every increase causes a flutter of concern among drivers on supermarket forecourts, where the larger bill for filling a tank means less money to spend on consumer goods - so threatening to put a brake on general economic growth.  And that causes more than a flutter of concern in Detroit where the two big American car-makers, General Motors and Ford, are losing market share to Japanese makers of cleaner cars.

So Mr Bush is proposing a raft of proposals in an energy bill which "will help us make better use of the energy supplies we now have, and will make our supply of energy more affordable and more secure for the future".

Concerns and solutions

Some of the proposals might please traditional environmental activists and some might appal them.  Mr Bush has indicated, for example, that he might not be against tax incentives to promote the manufacture and sale of cleaner cars that don't burn the gasoline, which many scientists believe causes global warming.  That would please the green lobby. The flip side, though, is that other measures that Mr Bush proposes would run counter to the demands of campaigners.

Storm costs 'could rise 66%'

Mr Bush is sympathetic, for example, to the oil companies which want more refining capacity and that might mean laxer pollution regulation. He also wants to open oil reserves in the Alaskan wilderness.  So there is a complex mix of concerns with a complex mix of solutions, some of which might harm the environment.

To an outsider, the argument on the environment in America doesn't seem as focused as it does in other parts of the world.  In parts of Europe, for example, insurance premiums have risen on property on flood plains, offering house owners a direct connection between their wallets and the weather.

In America, on the other hand, space seems abundant and extremes of nature in a country that's really a continent seem normal.

Misguided greens

There's no doubt the environment is going up the agenda but it's often as a vague concern rather than as a precise engagement with specific science.  Organic food, for example, is more popular than it was five years ago but with no real knowledge of whether it's better for the environment - it's really part of a consumer movement rather than an environmental one.

In the trendier supermarkets, the check-out staff ask you what sort of bag you want: "Paper or plastic?" Some green shops offer pens made of wood rather than plastic.  It's not clear which is friendlier to the Earth and the suspicion is that a vague feeling of doing good is being addressed rather than an informed judgement.
 
Organic food in the US is growing in popularity

If American popular concern is less focused, American attitudes to policy are less dogmatic.

Republicans are mistrustful of big statements made by politicians on the environment and mistrustful of big treaties which might not deliver very much improvement - so they are coming up with ingenious ideas that might actually work.  In Chicago, for example, there is a market in pollution where companies can buy and sell the right to pollute from each other, giving them a monetary incentive to reduce emissions.

Each company has a bench-mark of pollution - if it exceeds the mark, it pays a penalty; if it pollutes less, it can sell its savings to another company.  California is as tough as any country on cleaning up cars and is advanced in promoting non-gasoline vehicles.

The view of the Right in America is that there are compelling reasons to cut consumption of oil - it's a product that comes from politically volatile, often hostile countries.  The market may push Americans towards cleaner technology; shouting by green activists and politicians won't.


Article Last Updated: Friday, July 16, 2004 - 5:23:34 PM EST
Westporter Looks to Expand Use of Alternative Fuel Sources
By Kirk Lang klang@bcnnew.com
Deborah Moss and her husband, Doug, are a perfect match. They're big environmentalists. Doug is the publisher of E magazine, an environmental publication. Deborah is the CEO of Avalence, a relatively new company that produces emission-free, reliable and cost-effective hydrogen-generating equipment for fuel-cell vehicles and home power devices.
One could think they might have met on a dating Web site that matches people by their interests. However, the reality is this: "We met at the Westport YMCA in the hot tub," said Deborah Moss.

Moss co-founded E magazine with her husband, but her interest in hydrogen led her to branch out and form Avalence.

"I knew hydrogen was a real clean fuel source," said Moss, who previously worked for her family's manufacturing firm, which had one company that supplied breathing oxygen for naval carriers and another that made industrial low-pressure hydrogen equipment.

"We spun off our new company and started developing a new way to generate ultra-high pressure hydrogen through electrolysis, without a compressor," said Moss. The mission of the company is to make hydrogen fuel available to the general consumer.

At the present time, Avalence provides hydrofillers (hydrogen-generating equipment) primarily to businesses and municipalities.

"Right now they're mainly for fueling fleets," said Moss. The city of Fort Collins, Colo. is purchasing hydrofillers from Avalence for a mini-bus fleet to run on a blend of hydrogen and compressed natural gas.

"If you can combine compressed hydrogen with compressed natural gas, you can reduce the emissions from the vehicles," said Moss, who added that Fort Collins plans to have some sort of vehicle fleet run strictly on hydrogen next year.

"This is the newest type of fuel source available," said Moss.

The hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, that have been released to the general public and were seen at the Oscars ceremony arrivals this year, run on gas and electricity.

In addition to Fort Collins, local municipalities will be taking advantage of Avalence's hydrofillers.

"Our alpha unit is going to be installed in the Town of Fairfield in the next couple months to provide backup for one of its municipal buildings," said Moss. Avalence's hydrofillers might also be incorporated into a commercial development in Georgetown, if preliminary discussions with the developers are any indication. The property is a recovered brownfield site, which also has a hydroelectric dam on it.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Brownfields Initiative helps communities to work on safely cleaning up and reusing brownfields, which are properties that have a presence or potentially contains a hazardous substance or pollutant.

"They're thinking of having a hydrofiller to harness the energy from the hydro dam to store the energy and then use that energy to power some of the grounds fleet and provide electricity for the grounds lighting," said Moss.

Avalence's products are unique in that they can produce the high-pressure hydrogen (up to 10,000 pounds per square inch) needed for efficient storage and distribution, without a separate compressor. This single innovation significantly reduces the cost of Avalence's product lines and, perhaps more importantly, eliminates a complex and high maintenance component found in all other high-pressure electrolyzers.

Avalence's hydrofillers only require a source of water and a source of electricity. For transportation companies whose fleets run on compressed natural gas, it can be a hassle because it requires having to get the compressed natural gas to the site.

"Getting water to the site is a much easier task," said Moss.

While her new company has been doing very well, Moss would like to see the hydrogen fuel market "moving a little faster."

However, whether vehicles and appliances run, or partly run, on electricity, solar power or hydrogen, she is glad to see "people are starting to realize we have to wean ourselves off this reliance on fossil fuel."

As for her husband, Moss is happy she's married to someone with whom she can talk about hydrogen fuel.

"It's really great when you respect each other and have a lot of interests that you share."



Bicycling to New Bedford Middle School is Banned
By KIRK LANG
klang@bcnnew.com

Middle school students will be banned from bicycling to Bedford Middle School this year, according to Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon at a Monday night Board of Education meeting.

Landon made the decision after consulting with Westport Police Chief William Chiarenzelli before the new school year commenced this past Wednesday.

Landon said the traffic in the area is "projected to be enormous."

"We envision an increased amount of traffic on Cross Highway, Long Lots Road and North Avenue."

The superintendent said the ban will be in effect until administrators and police can get a handle on vehicle volume.

"I would rather err on the side of caution," said Landon.

He added part of the traffic problem is many parents driving their children to school, rather than letting them take the buses. Landon said he can understand parents picking their children up after school, because of the numerous extracurricular activities children are involved in, but said in many cases, parents drive their children to school in the morning because they can get an extra half hour or so more of sleep.

Landon is urging all parents to put their children on the school buses every day.

"All middle school students will be bused, regardless of the distance," he said.

Board of Education member Mary Parmelee said students may try to get around the ban by riding in through Staples and using the high school's bike racks, instead of coming in through North Avenue.

"As soon as you make a rule, a middle school student will think of a way around the rule."

Landon said some type of enforcement would be looked into for those who might try to beat the system.

Parmelee said anyone with any semblance of intelligence would try to come in through Staples than the hilly North Avenue, "unless they wanted to challenge themselves physically."



STAMFORD DOWNTOWN PLAN (FROM A BICYCLING PERSPECTIVE)
Below is a brief statement of some of their (the city's) current plans...

*Development: Stamford will build three thousand housing units within one
mile of the train station (or transportation center.)  This concentrates
both jobs and housing in the downtown.

*Transportation: By shunting through auto traffic around the downtown core,
reducing downtown traffic, adding pedestrian-friendly traffic signals, and
using other traffic-calming techniques downtown Stamford is planning to be
more responsive to pedestrian needs.

*Bicycle/Pedestrian
        -The Stamford Urban Transitway will connect the transportation
center with the east side of town. This transitway will emphasize public
transit, pedestrian ways, and "high-speed" bicycle lanes.

        -The Mill River Pedestrian/Bicycle path will connect the
transportation center with the UConn downtown Campus. The scheduled
completion is in 2003. This will be an important link to other proposed
bike lanes.

        -Washington Boulevard will undergo extensive pedestrian safety
enhancements.

*Traffic Calming: With an eye toward pedestrian safety and traffic control,
traffic-calming measures have been installed in residential neighborhoods.