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Soy-based fuel powering resort’s buses

Northstar-at-Tahoe has fueled all five of its on-site buses with a mixture of processed soybean oil and diesel since November.

The resort near Truckee is the first in the area to use alternative fuel, which reduces emissions that are harmful to the environment by up to 30 percent, said Toby Baird, resort public relations manager.

“So far everything seems to be going OK,” Baird said. “If it all goes well, we’ll try to convert everything over.”



The resort’s other diesel-run vehicles include: Snow Cats, work trucks and shuttles. Northstar is using this winter as a test run for the fuels and won’t make any decision about use of the fuel until the end of the season.

The alternative fuel mixture, 20 percent soybean processed soy bean oil and 80 percent diesel, costs about 10 to 15 cents more than a gallon of diesel, said Gene Gebolys, president of World Energy Alternatives.




Northstar buys its fuel from World Energy, based in Boston and with an office Nevada City. The resort says it is willing to spend the extra money for the fuel because the environment is worth it.

“It’s one of our company values,” Baird said. “The environment is our livelihood. We will treat it with respect. We try to innovate.”

Right now alternative fuels are a hot commodity.

“We just finished our fourth straight year where we have doubled our business,” Gebolys said. “Ski resorts seem to be on the rise and catching on as well.”

Gebolys said his company also provides a fuel made completely from soybean oil but it is less popular product because it’s much more expensive, doesn’t work well in cold weather and is less accepted by engine manufacturers.

Northstar has yet to put signs on the buses that indicate the alternative fuel use, but Baird said the signs will be up before long.

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com


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