While we typically have not had issues in past winters with our fuel, this year demand for our biofuel has been outpacing our ability to supply all the biodiesel from our own Co-op micro-brew facility at Bings Creek. As a result we have had to bring in additional supplies from partner biodiesel producers which have not had the same degree of cold-flow tolerance as the biodiesel we produce ourselves. This, along with an abnormally cold spell, has resulted in greater cold flow issues than normally experienced.
As a result, the cardlock pump at CPS has been shut down to prevent members from filling up with B100 during these cold conditions. The reason is two-fold: First, we need to make sure we protect you from the risk that your vehicle may not run when temperature drop below freezing. Next, we have to ensure we do not damage some very expensive pumps at the Co-op’s cardlock at CPS if the biodiesel gets too thick and over-strains the equipment. Unfortunately, this option does not help us continue to offer you the biodiesel you joined the Co-op for.
There is another option: to temporarily change the biodiesel ratio at the cardlock to a B50 blend. This solves two problems at once: It ensures our members have no risk of accidentally using too high a ratio that leaves their vehicle stranded if the temperature drops too low again, and; it ensures that we can keep the pump open without the risk of a Co-op member inadvertently damaging the pump by using it during another cold snap. Winter maintenance at CPS revealed some technical challenges with the pump and we will let our valued members know as soon as the pump is back up and running.
After careful consideration of the options, the Co-op board and staff have decided to temporarily change the blend from B100 to B50 at our cardlock on Allenby Road. Once we are safely out of this cold weather, we will again offer the pure biodiesel option. I welcome any feedback on your experiences with the biodiesel during this cold period and on the Co-op’s decision to offer a B50 blend at this time.
As is out tradition during the holiday season, we will be having a Co-op member social before Christmas where you will have an opportunity to share your thoughts with the board and staff, and to hear ours as well. We will also be going over the year in review and discussing the course for the Co-op’s future. Please keep an eye on your inbox for the invitation!
Best wishes for the season,
Brian Roberts, President,
Cowichan Biodiesel Co-op