County gives 'green oil' the green light

Cow fat to be used to milk savings for vehicles

Going green is even easier when the possibility of real savings is included.

Schenectady County officials announced on Thursday, Oct. 21, the results of a test for a possible motor oil for county vehicles. The county partnered with Green Planet Products to test a fully biodegradable motor oil, named "G-Oil," to see if savings could be found over traditional motor oil. The experiment tested six county vehicles, including a mixture of high and low usage, and found savings could be realized from making the biodegradable switch.

The distributor of the product, Green Planet, provided the county with a 55-gallon drum of the motor oil for testing purposes at no charge. Testing of the product began in December 2009. The Green Earth Technologies, Inc. oil is currently the world's only bio-based motor oil to be SM Certified by the American Petroleum Institute.

Testing revealed more intensely used vehicles, which normally receive an oil change at 3,000 miles, didn't need oil changes until 10,000 miles, said Joe McQueen, spokesman for the county. Also, vehicles normally receiving an oil change at 4,000 miles could be changed at 15,000 miles with the bio-based oil.

"We are pleased with the results we have seen during testing," said Susan Savage, D-Niskayuna, chairwoman of the Schenectady County Legislature. "Our future use of this green oil will continue our efforts to provide better, more efficient government to taxpayers while also protecting the environment."

County vehicles averaging six oil changes a year would now only have the oil changed an average of two times a year. Also, the vehicles averaging nine oil changes a year would be reduced to three oil changes. Switching to the bio-oil could save the county up to $1,000 per year for vehicles with a high amount of oil changes per year. The bio-oil costs around $1.50 more per quart compared to traditional motor oil.

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