Carolina Biodiesel

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How to start a Biofuels Cooperative

or set up a B100 Tank Trail tank

If you're thinking of starting a biodiesel co-op, good for you! You're on the way to supporting our farmers, reducing air pollution, reducing dependence on and conflict with other countries, and living within the budget nature has provided for us.

We hope this basic outline helps. You should customize it to suit your particular needs.

  1. Spread the word Find potential members by collecting contact information for current diesel users; look for potential "green" fleets (blocks of diesel users - buses, other municipal or commercial vehicle fleets). Set up an Excel spreadsheet or other mechanism for tracking your contacts. Find networks of alternative energy/environmental/conservation folks (including us!).
  2. Have a meeting Talk up the value of biodiesel and a cooperative structure. See if someone is willing to put a biodiesel tank on their property and/or manage it. A good meeting location is important.
  3. Form co-op legal structure Decide whether the co-op will be a non-profit, S corporation, or LLC; Put together a board; elect officers; write documents; open a bank account.
  4. The Tank Here's what's involved in setting up and running a co-op tank:

    1. Pick a site - A good site should be secure (fenced), easily accessible, close to main roads, flat, and in/near a commercial of industrial zone or on a farm.
    2. Get permits - Check and see, it's likely you won't need permits as this is an agricultural product and is run an operated by a co-op. Be prepared to educate your regulators if necessary. Whether or not it's legally required, it's a good idea to put a concrete pad and cinder block containment around your tank site.
    3. Find your tank source - Call Carolina Biodiesel or another supplier to set up your tank. We offer tanks that can be purchased, leased, or leased to own. We will set you up with the paperwork and marketing materials to run the tank, or we can operate it and lease the site from your co-op.
    4. Plan fuel purchasing - The co-op will purchase fuel at a bulk rate and resell it to co-op members at a retail price you set. Your margin (price above what the co-op pays wholesale for the fuel) needs to allow enough revenue to pay the lease, pay for the tank, and co-op management.
    5. Plan bulk transport of biodiesel - We will deliver fuel, (other distributors may also do this), or you may need to purchase your own trailer with 500 gallon tank and pump.
    6. Plan and do training - Train co-op members/users in operation of the tank.
    7. Plan long-term monitoring - Plan to monitor tank usage and keep up with accounting.
  5. Enjoy and nurture your co-op As time passes, grow the co-op, market it, hand out flyers, advertise, hold parties, and have some fun.

Other options: Offer filtered, dewatered vegetable oil for straight-vegetable-oil (SVO) users or backyard biodiesel processors; share back-yarding or SVO kit info. Sell equipment. Distribute biodiesel. Start larger-scale production.

Carolina Biofuels
1410 Cross St. / Durham, NC 27701
(919) 957-1500 / info @ carolinabiofuels.org

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