Alternative Fuels Have Place in Market

It seems as though we’re constantly bombarded with the same messages: You have to go small. You gotta go green. We must go hybrid. We have to go electric. We gotta save the planet! We need alternative forms of energy.
As we at TBJ examine some of these issues in our green/environmental edition (though we argue every issue is green), we recognize that alternative forms of energy have a place in today’s market. It’s a small place, but a place nonetheless.
There is no question about it: At this point, we can’t replace crude oil or natural gas as the primary energy sources in this country.
In some cases, there are simply no alternatives to fossil fuel.
“Jet airplanes, for example, must use jet fuel,” said Dewey Bartlett Jr., president of Keener Oil Co. and chairman of the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board. “Nothing else will work, not ethanol or bio-diesel. It has to be refined jet fuel, period.”
Then there is cost to consider. In many cases, traditional forms of energy — gasoline, diesel and natural gas — are cheaper than the alternative.
Mike Terry, president of the Oklahoma Independent Producers Association, agreed.
“People have been sold a bill of goods,” Terry said. “We need to get back to reality. We have 10 jillion automobiles running on gasoline. In the same way, there are millions of homes using fossil fuels every single day.SDRq
And there is the issue of availability.
Tulsa Transit recently discussed the purchase of new buses and had trouble deciding whether to buy diesel or compressed natural gas-powered buses. Eventually, diesel was picked because there are too few CNG stations in town, and what stations there are only service passenger cars, not city buses.
Where alternatives have a place is individual settings or remote locations.
“We see wind working in Oklahoma,” Terry said. “There is a niche for that. And solar is seen in oil field applications.”
Solar power is often used on a remote lease that is beyond the nearest transmission line. The small amount of alternative energy is used to run a meter, Bartlett said.
Otherwise, petroleum and natural gas offer the best power energy for the buck.
That’s not to say we should waste energy, Terry said.
“We need to be more efficient. I agree we should be better stewards of our God-given resources. We are fortunate to have fossil fuels in Oklahoma — it drives the economy and provides jobs.”
The trouble is the agenda that seeks to do away with fossil fuels and replace them exclusively with alternative energy.
Left to the market, alternatives can and should be able to replace crude oil and its derivatives.
“But until there is a point where the alternatives are similarly priced, I do not see it,” Bartlett said.
The drumbeat for alternative energy sources has gone on for more than 30 years. We are worn out by the hype. The market will take care of alternatives if and when. Until then, we can promote alternatives where they make sense.

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