PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway began testing the sale of soy-powered biodiesel fuel at one of its stores in west Seattle last month.
The store is the first Safeway to offer a fuel called SoyPower. The blend of 20% soybean oil-based biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel is available at two pumps with a total of four nozzles.
The cleaner-burning fuel — which was being sold for $2.85 a gallon vs. $2.54 for regular unleaded — can be used in most diesel engines. At the grand opening, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels pumped SoyPower into a Volkswagen Golf.
Safeway's move isn't about making a profit, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst, Oil Price Information Service, Rockville, Md. “It is about the perception of being ‘green.’” Safeway did not respond to calls for comment.
Because the price of corn — which is being used to manufacture E-85, an alternate fuel blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline — is high, “that has taken the price up for soy and any grain that might be used as feedstock for biodiesel,” Kloza said.
High prices can be linked to competition between traditional agricultural product companies and fuel producers that “will require significantly more acreage to support the federal government's goals for alternative fuel,” said David Bishop, a convenience-store specialist at Willard Bis-hop, Barrington, Ill. President Bush recently announced an initiative to reduce gasoline use by 20% by 2017.