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Truck 51 of the Chula Vista Fire Department.

Truck 51 of the Chula Vista Fire Department.

Anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant probably shudders at the mention of having to dispose of used cooking oil. While not much can be done to eliminate this unpleasant kitchen task, what’s changing is how that oil can be recycled to help reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy.

Used cooking oil is a key (and very low cost) ingredient in the production of biodiesel fuel. And now, thanks to an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, the City of Chula Vista, CA has installed a new 10,000 gallon biodiesel fuel tank to facilitate the conversion of over 125 heavy-duty fleet vehicles to biodiesel which will lower greenhouse gas emissions and improve local air quality.

The conversion will save the city from having to purchase an estimated 147,000 gallons of diesel fuel every year, (the equivalent of over 19 tractor-trailer tankers.)

The new biodiesel infrastructure is also creating an opportunity for the city to collaborate with local haulers and processors of restaurant grease and waste vegetable oil. When fully operational, the city’s biodiesel operation will be accessible to other public agencies and school districts.