Philadelphia-based co-op launches Bioheat initiative

By Erin Voegele | September 30, 2011

The Energy Cooperative, a Philadelphia-based member-owned nonprofit, has launched an initiative to encourage the use of Bioheat. To kick off the Clean Heat initiative, The Energy Co-op is holding a Clean Heat video contest. Members of the group submitted videos of their experiences using Bioheat. The Energy Co-op will use these videos as a way to promote the use of the biodiesel-blended heating oil, as well as create more awareness of the renewable heating fuel. The contest is scheduled to conclude on Oct. 20.

According to Angela Kassahun, The Energy Co-op’s co-director, the nonprofit has been in operation since 1979. “As an organization, we do three main things,” she said. “Our mission across the board is to provide access to renewable energy and a cost savings. We offer home heating oil, electricity, and biodiesel distribution for commercial fleets.” Membership is open to those living in southeastern Pennsylvania.

The co-op began to offer Bioheat blends to its members in 2006. The heating oil program is largely residential,” Kassahun said, with approximately 97 percent of the members taking part representing private households. The remaining 3 percent are primary small businesses and organizations. According to Kassahun, The Energy Co-op offers Bioheat blends from B2 to B20. “We partner with area oil companies,” Kassahun said, and form contracts with them. “They deliver the heating oil to our members, and we negotiate the rates,” she added.

Although The Energy Co-op has been offering Bioheat to its members for several years, Kassahun said that the group recently started to notice that there seems to be a lack of understanding and awareness regarding what the product is. “There are a lot of misnomers out there as to what it could potentially do to [home heating oil equipment], so we wanted to create something that would really get at the heart of what the benefits really are,” she continued. This included taking action to debunk myths and conduct promotional events to connect people already using Bioheat with those who are interested, but unsure. In additional to the video contest, The Energy Co-op is also advertising and producing brochures on Bioheat. Kassahun added that there are several other outreach opportunities in the works. 


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