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Hardy2
July 26, 2006

Local Firm Embraces Biofuel


East End residents looking for environmentally friendly home-heating solutions this winter now have an alternative.

John Romanelli, owner of Southold's Burt's Reliable, a family-owned fuel supplier, held a press conference on Friday to announce his company had accepted its first-ever delivery of biofuel and became a trailblazer on Long Island as the first firm to provide consumers with bioheat, an alternative to traditional fuel.

No other company in the area offers biofuel, a renewable energy source created from a blend of soybean and standard oil, for residential home use.

The soybean oil, made from domestically grown beans, is a clean-burning, low emissions product, said Romanelli. But, while biofuel has been tested in labs across the country and has become a mainstream home heating option in the Midwest, until now, residents in the area had no way to pursue an environmentally friendly path.

"The real feather in our cap is we're the first Long Island company to stock and supply biodiesel fuel and offer it to our customers as a home heating alternative," said Romanelli. "At Burt's Reliable, it's our job to plan ahead and find ways to make heating a home easy and cost effective. We also have a responsibility to the environment."

To that end, Romanelli said soybean oil is non-toxic and produces fewer emissions. Bioheat also acts as a solvent, slowly cleaning a customer's tank, burning cleaner and extending the life of an oil burner.

Customers considering biofuel will require no equipment upgrades or new parts. "That's the beauty of it," said Romanelli. "There is no change necessary to existing infrastructure."

And, the biofuel blend costs the same as traditional fuel and could actually save customers money, said Romanelli, who pointed out that as of July 1, New York State began offering a tax credit of five cents per gallon to homeowners who purchase 5% biofuel through June 30, 2007.

On a larger scale, because soybean oil is domestically grown and refined, it helps to reduce dependency on foreign oil. According to published reports, if all Long Island homes utilized biofuel it would reduce the area's dependency on foreign oil by 35 million gallons.

The press event, held at the headquarters of Burt's Reliable to herald the kickoff of the initiative, was attended by Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, Sprague Energy Director of Business Development Steven Levy, New York State Assemblyman Marc Alessi and Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine.

Romaine announced that he has filed a resolution that would exempt biofuel used by homeowners from the county sales tax in an effort "to entice more companies to offer biofuels to their customers."

The resolution will be introduced August 8 and voted upon August 22.

Suffolk County is the only county in New York that taxes home heating fuels, at a rate of 2.5%. Earlier this year, Romaine co-sponsored a resolution to eliminate the tax on home heating fuels; the resolution has been tabled.

Romaine applauded Romanelli's efforts: "It's another step in reducing our dependency on fossil fuels."

Romanelli agreed: "Everything about biofuel is good — it's cleaner, it burns better — there are no negatives. It's a win-win."

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