Gaining an Edge with Bioheat® Blended Fuel

Hart Home Comfort has evolved many times over its history. One of its more recent changes is blending heating oil with biodiesel to take advantage of the economic and environmental benefits. 

The Biodiesel Difference

Hart Home Comfort has come a long way from operating a fledgling company in the back of a gas station. Through a blend of patience and industry expertise, Ray Hart Sr. has evolved his business into a leading heating oil company in the country’s largest metropolis — New York City.

Hart was introduced to the heating oil business through part-time COD deliveries. Purchasing a terminal on Long Island then provided an avenue for him into the transportation market.

In 2006, an employee recommended that Hart Home Comfort explore biodiesel. Capitalizing on his existing infrastructure, Hart moved ahead and has never looked back. For heating oil customers, the company began by offering Bioheat® blended fuel, which is a blend of heating oil and biodiesel. Hart Home Comfort started with a B2 blend before quickly moving up to B20. 

“When we started, we were attracted by biodiesel being an American-made fuel. We also felt we had a responsibility to future generations to be proactive in delivering a cleaner fuel for the environment,” Hart says. “Now, Bioheat® also gives us an economic advantage.” 

It also gives their customers an economic advantage in the form of a New York state tax credit. That credit returns to the customer 1 cent for every 1 percent of biodiesel per gallon blended into traditional heating oil. 

“Claiming the tax credit is a very easy process for our customers, and it gives them another reason to embrace Bioheat® blended fuel in addition to the environmental and performance benefits,” Hart says.

Hart Home Comfort only offers Bioheat® blended fuel. From April 2017 to April 2018, the company sold over 8 million gallons, with more than 2 million gallons of that being biodiesel. Its New Hyde Park terminal thru-puts approximately 13 million to 15 million gallons of heating oil annually and another 4 million to 5 million gallons of biodiesel.

“We want to market a good, reliable Bioheat® blended fuel product,” Hart says. “With the introduction of low-sulfur heating oil and the near-zero sulfur content of biodiesel, it gives us a really good marketing edge.”   

The Bottom Line

Economics

Bioheat® blended fuel gives the company a financial advantage

Business

Improved customer satisfaction thanks to:

  • The state tax credit, which puts money back in customers' pockets
  • Offering a cleaner burning fuel

Biodiesel Pays Off for Company's Travel Center and Wholesale Businesses

Sapp Bros., Inc. sees economic advantage in offering biodiesel at its travel centers and as a wholesaler.

Sapp Bros Travel Center

Sapp Bros., Inc. has experienced the benefits of biodiesel with two different businesses.

One is Sapp Bros. Travel Centers, which operates 17 travel centers stretching from Salt Lake City to Pennsylvania, many of them along Interstate 80.

The other is a fuel wholesale business, Sapp Bros. Petroleum, which sells petroleum diesel, biodiesel, biodiesel blends, and other fuels and lubricants.

“Economically, biodiesel is a good thing to do,” says Kevin Cassidy, Vice President of both the petroleum and travel center businesses. “It’s also a sustainable fuel. It’s made us more competitive.”

Biodiesel economics spur interest

The company’s travel center in Peru, Illinois, offers a case study in these benefits. Located 100 miles west of Chicago on I-80, Sapp Bros. Peru is a full-service travel center that sees 750,000 customers a year.

It was one of the first travel centers in the state to offer biodiesel blends when it introduced the alternative fuel in 2005, according to Cassidy.

“The state of Illinois established a sales tax exemption on blends of B11 and higher that still stands, and it made sense to do it,” he says. “The B100 was priced attractively, below what our petroleum diesel cost. And we were able to offer a B11 blend at 8 cents per gallon below our No. 2 ULSD. It went over very well with our customers.”

The infrastructure changes needed to introduce biodiesel were relatively simple. Sapp Bros. Peru converted a 12,000-gallon underground storage tank to hold straight biodiesel, or B100. Then as now, biodiesel is piped over to a loading station where petroleum fuel trucks come in, and Sapp Bros. uses splash blending by loading the B100 into the top of a truck’s tank. The truck then unloads the blended fuel into tanks that feed the diesel islands.

“To get started with biodiesel, our infrastructure upgrades were minimal,” Cassidy says. “It was around an eight-month payback on the cost.”

Utilizing B20

Cassidy is able to easily adjust the blend level and frequently goes up to a B20 blend. “The blending economics make B20 a smart choice for us,” Cassidy says. “And I’ve had drivers say it’s cleaned up their fuel systems, cleaned their fuel injectors, and they actually get better mileage with biodiesel blends versus a regular No. 2 ULSD because of the clean injectors.”

The Peru travel center and the wholesale business run out of the location use B11 throughout the winter, and on milder winter days will move up to B20. Cassidy says by using a good cold weather additive, they’ve had no issues in storage tanks, at dispensers or with customers.

No matter the weather, he advises other travel centers to do their homework on producers and to purchase quality fuel.

“REG produces a quality product, they stand behind it, and they have the supply to meet our demand,” Cassidy says.

Biodiesel has made Sapp Bros. more competitive both against other travel centers and as a fuel distributor.

“Because we took the step and handled biodiesel, it opened up a lot of doors for us as a wholesaler,” Cassidy says. “And at our travel centers, having a diverse lineup of fuels attracts a bigger customer base. Besides filling up with fuel, they’re inside your stores. They’re shopping, maybe getting something to eat. There are benefits to bringing in new faces.”

Sapp Bros., Inc.

  • Headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska
  • Operates 17 travel centers
  • Also runs a fuel wholesale business Has sold biodiesel at its travel centers since 2005
  • Offers up to a B20 blend
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