In 2003, when I first uttered the term “Bioheat” in the basement of my home where I started my business, the concept had nothing to do with carbon taxation or climate change. I, along with countless others, helped to conceive and bring to market this product because we felt that it was a better, more marketable heating fuel for the industry. This is an industry in which I, and now my son, have invested our entire careers.
When sourced, blended and stored responsibly, my initial thoughts regarding Bioheat® have been validated by prominent fuel research organizations, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Southwest Research Institute, the U.S .Department of Agriculture, and most recently, by Brookhaven National Laboratory’s November 2018 report, B20 to B100 as Heating Fuels. While I always held the belief that Bioheat Fuel could improve the heating oil industry, I never imagined that it could potentially save it from extinction.
But here we are.
From Main Street to Capitol Hill, there is a growing call for the elimination of carbon intensive fuels, including home heating oil and natural gas, from the energy landscape.
A slew of bi-partisan carbon bills have been introduced in the House and Senate in recent months. Regardless of your stance on climate change, if enacted today, the anti-carbon legislation being proposed by State and Federal legislators would put many heating oil dealers out of business.
The good news
However, there’s good news. Unlike natural gas, the heating oil industry has the ability to lower the carbon score of our fuel. This means if we move to higher blends of Bioheat® Fuel to align with the de-carbonization targets being set, it’s not a question of how much of our market share we can protect, but rather, how much we can win back.
To make sense out of all of this and to help industry leadership adopt a plan (which they have), I structured a discussion at the New England Fuel Institute (NEFI) HEAT Show in September with three simple words: “Situation, Solution & Strategy.” For the elevator pitch to the local dealer who thinks that it’s business as usual,
I recite the three S’s:
• The Situation: We’re being legislated out of business.
• The Solution: Bioheat® , a low-carbon liquid fuel that is both available and compatible with today’s heating equipment.
• The Strategy: Stop dragging your feet and collaborate with your respective leadership groups and upstream suppliers on how to achieve a seamless transition to higher biodiesel blends over the coming heating season.
According to the latest benchmark survey by Gray, Gray & Gray Certified Public Accountants, 97% of heating oil companies are family-owned and operated businesses. That would describe my business as well. When I worked to make Bioheat® Fuel a reality more than 15 years ago, it wasn’t just my family I had in mind, but yours. I hope that we all can adopt that mindset as we march forward—united in the fight for our industry’s survival. ICM