Houston-Area Power Plant Runs on Chicken Fat

Just north of Houston is the nation's first power plant run completely on bio-diesel. As Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, the plant uses vegetable oils and chicken fat to generate green power.

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The Biofuels Power Plant provides energy to nearly 3,000 residents in a tiny city called Oak Ridge North, a municipality just on the edge of The Woodlands. Mayor Fred O'Connor serves on the advisory board for Safe Renewables. He says all of Oak Ridge North's power comes from the five megawatts generated at the plant.

"So what we're doing are removing the emissions from use of fuel. So in your petroleum-based fuels, you can't do that. With biodiesels and these alternative fuels, the emissions -- you're cutting out the emissions."

The manufacturers say their product results in 50 percent less Volatile Organic Compounds compared to petroleum diesel, and a 98 percent reduction in NOx emissions. Congressman Nick Lampson chairs the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.

"It's the only place in the country that this is being done in the manner in which it is. So it's important that our committee understand it in the hopes that we'll be able to continue to support the industry and make other communities across the country -- make it easier for them to capitalize on this."

Right now, the biggest enemy of biofuel is expense. The federal government provides a subsidy so manufacturers can experiment in the quest for the cheapest product. But that subsidy is scheduled to run out in December of 2008, and manufacturers are crossing their fingers and lobbying their lawmakers in the hopes of getting an extension. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

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