ORLANDO, Florida, August 4, 2008 (ENS) - A $2.5 million agreement signed at the Farm to Fuel Summit Thursday in Orlando creates a private-public partnership to help green Orlando's public transportation.
Governor Charlie Crist joined Linda Watson, chief executive officer of LYNX Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority, to sign the agreement that awards $2.5 million to use biodiesel to fuel public transportation in three counties.
Part of the Renewable Energy Technologies Grants Program, the grant will allow LYNX to become the nation's first transit agency to build its own biodiesel blending facility.
The funds will be used to construct state-of-the-art technology for biodiesel blending, storage and dispensing to public transportation systems in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.
LYNX will convert its entire fleet of 290 buses to B-20 blend fuel, which is a mixture of 20 percent biodiesel with 80 percent petroleum diesel.
"The same LYNX buses that help preserve our environment every day by taking thousands of cars off the road, will soon be fueled with a cleaner carbon neutral energy source" said Watson.
The project will enable LYNX to reduce its use of fossil fuel by 1.2 million gallons and lower its carbon dioxide emissions by about 26 million pounds each year.
LYNX will be the first transit agency in the nation to own, operate and produce "on demand" blending to fully convert its fleet.
It will also be the first to distribute custom blending to a partnership of other local governmental agencies such as the Orange County Convention Center and the Orlando Utility Commission.
LYNX, Orange County Government and the Orlando Utilities Commission will be partners in the project.
The LYNX Operations Center near John Young Parkway and Princeton Street will house the blending facility. Ground breaking for the facility is scheduled for October 2008, and the conversion should be complete by next July.
Governor Crist said the grant is part of his administration's plan to encourage investment in Florida's renewable energy industry.
Addressing attendees at the Farm to Fuel Summit, the governor said, "I am committed to developing Florida as a green technology business hub, and investment in the production of ethanol and other biofuels will strengthen Florida's economy and help us to meet our goals to reduce greenhouse gases."
"Florida's clean energy future will benefit Florida's economy, environment and reduce our dependence on foreign oil," he said.
Governor Crist pointed to Florida's historic, comprehensive energy and economic development legislation created by the 2008 Florida Legislature and signed by the governor at last month's 2008 Serve to Preserve Florida Summit on Global Climate Change in Miami.
The legislation expands the existing renewable energy grants program to include energy efficiency projects.
The 2008-09 budget includes $7 million for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Another $8 million is set aside for bioenergy projects to be administered by the new Florida and Energy and Climate Commission that was created by the legislation.
The Farm to Fuel initiative was created by the 2006 Legislature to enhance the market for and promote the production and distribution of renewable energy from Florida-grown crops, agricultural wastes and residues, and other biomass and to enhance to value of agriculture products or expand Florida's agribusiness.
Designed to stimulate capital investment throughout Florida, the Renewable Energy Technologies Grants Program was created by the 2006 Florida Energy Act to provide renewable energy matching grants for demonstration, commercialization, research and development projects.
The 2007 Florida Legislature appropriated $12.5 million for the grant program, to be used for projects that generate or utilize other renewable energy resources, including hydrogen, biomass, solar energy, geothermal energy, wind energy, ocean energy, waste heat and hydroelectric power.
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