Exelon Vehicles Run Biofuel Made with Illinois Soybeans

Recent biodiesel costs in the Chicago area are as much as 7 cents a gallon less expensive than regular diesel, a result of market conditions and tax credits. Thus thousands of Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) utility vehicles running on biodiesel fuel — manufactured with Illinois soybeans — are saving money while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

If ComEd’s parent company, Exelon, continues to invest in cleaner fuels as part of its greenhouse gas reduction strategy, Exelon could become a significant consumer of renewable fuel in the country. “Our use of biodiesel fuel benefits the environment, the Illinois agricultural community and our customers,” said John L. Skolds, president of Exelon Energy Delivery, which consists of ComEd and PECO. “We’ve had great results with biodiesel, and now we want to expand on that success.” ComEd, which consumed 6 percent of the nation’s entire sales of biodiesel in 2004, owns more than 2,100 vehicles and equipment that run on B20, made of 20 percent soybean oil and 80 percent diesel fuel. The utility’s satisfaction with biodiesel fuel is good news for Illinois soybean farmers. It takes 267,000 bushels to produce the 2 million gallons of B20 ComEd uses each year. ComEd vehicles currently refuel with biodiesel at about 20 company-owned facilities throughout northern Illinois. “Choosing biodiesel over regular diesel reduces a number of pollutants including carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and carbon dioxide,” said Helen Howes, Exelon vice president of health and safety. “It also is safer to handle because it is less combustible and less toxic.” Chicago-based Exelon is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities with more than $15 billion in revenues and a customer base of five million. ComEd provides service to approximately 3.7 million customers across Northern Illinois, equivalent to 70 percent of the state’s population. Exelon’s proposed merger with New Jersey-based PSEG, which already operates about 1,550 utility vehicles on B20, would be in addition to PECO, an Exelon utility based in Philadelphia. If PECO selects B20 for its 420 diesel-fueled vehicles next year, and the proposed merger with PSEG is completed, Exelon claims it might well become the nation’s largest user of biodiesel fuel.

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