My Local Energy Journey


I want to change not just the quantity of energy I consume but the kind. Both where it comes from and how it effects our planet.

Most of the oil we consume in the United States is imported. These assets are controlled by multi-national corporations. Their primary concern is profit. They wage wars and kill others to obtain it. By reducing my consumption of petroleum I’m one less consumer and supporter of big Corporate oil and their wars for profit.

I want to use fuel made locally.

First because the primary concern of our local producers is the well-being of our community. Second because money spent locally is better for my family and I. Michael Shuman wrote, “A growing body of evidence suggests that every dollar spent at a locally owned business generates two to four times more economic benefit—measured in income, wealth, jobs, and tax revenue—than a dollar spent at a globally owned business. ” Its called the Local Multiplier effect.

When engines burn gasoline and petro-diesel it releases carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, particulates like soot, and nitrogen into the air. Not only does this effect global climate change it creates pollution which toxins can harm us.

So what can we do? How does one consume less oil? There are many ways. You can walk more, take the bus, and ride a bike. I do all this but it wasn’t enough for me. I needed a way to go long distance too. I’ll admit convenience was a factor as well. Having your own vehicle gives you a great amount of choice.

When I discovered our local biodiesel manufacturer Piedmont Biofuels it became obvious what to do. Buy biodiesel. Fuel produced locally with natural materials.

How do you do this? Get a diesel automobile.

I’m aware that diesels can be dirty. But when biodiesel is used the pollution output is greatly reduced. Unfortunately the new “clean” VW Turbo Diesels are out of my price range. The only source of cash I had at the time was locked up in another vehicle. Because the truck is old I knew I couldn’t get a lot of money for it. I did a bunch of research and legwork to find another car I could afford. Luckily I got enough from the sale of the gas burner to get a diesel. Reusing an old vehicle is more sustainable too. It means less energy used in manufacture and fewer parts will goto a junkyard.

A wise friend told me that when contemplating great challenges to concentrate on winning the little battles instead of the entire war. Despite the gross war analogy it was apt. So I figure that changing one bad habit at a time is a good thing. I’m applying this idea of incremental change to what kind of energy I use. That means consuming less. This week I took a big step in that direction. Its going to take time. But I hope you will learn from my journey to consume local energy.

Part One

This week I sold my 1988 Chevy S10 Truck. It was really hard to part with. I choked up a bit as I took my last ride in it. Like many other Americans I equate real emotion with inanimate objects. This could help explain why Americans love to drive.

In my case this vehicle was a gift from my late Grandfather. He lent it to me many times before I inherited it after he died. He loved this truck. I loved driving it because it reminded me of him. So many positive memories riding in the truck with him. I hope he understands my choices today.

Just so you, and my family reading this know, I did not cast away this gift lightly with out purpose. I found a great local friend to purchase the truck. It was almost a accident that we made the deal. But I know she will really benefit from the truck. It will assist her in so many practical ways. That is the spirit of its utility. Something my Grandfather would of appreciated.

The bottom line is I got exactly enough money from the sale of the truck to purchase another vehicle. A 1981 Mercedes 240D. in Part Two I’ll explain why I specifically chose this model of car.

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