A modern beacon for cleaner energy

Feature Story

Rose Island Lighthouse (with the Newport Bridge in the background) is a beacon for cleaner energy use this winter, thanks to a donation of biofuel from hudsonecofuel, LLC.

The Historic Rose Island Lighthouse brightens up Narragansett Bay

Energy independence is nothing new for the Rose Island Lighthouse, located on an island off Newport, R.I., in Narragansett Bay. It lies a mile beyond the reach of utility lines and services.

The self-contained landmark has its own environmentally sensitive systems for heat, water, sewer and electricity. But this winter its heating system will be running cleaner than ever before, thanks to soybean-derived biofuel heating oil provided by the Providence-based biofuels company, hudsonecofuel.

Rose Island volunteers help Eric Drew of Drew Oil and Joe Davis of the Lighthouse Foundation carry B100 from delivery boat to lighthouse.

Built on the site of an 18th century fort, the lighthouse was originally lit in 1870 as a navigational aid and kept active for a century. But after the Newport Bridge ‘ a much larger visible landmark for ships ‘ was built, the lighthouse fell into disrepair. Restored and relit in 1993 by the Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation, the site is a famed tourist attraction and featured stop on winter seal watch tours offered by the Foundation and Save the Bay.

The lighthouse is maintained by keepers who sign on for a week at a time as part of the Foundation’s environmental education program. ‘Self-sufficiency is what this place is all about,” says executive director, Charlotte Johnson. ‘So when hudsonecofuel offered us enough biofuel to create 400 gallons of B10 heating oil for the lighthouse and to power our boat, we gratefully accepted.”

Hudsonecofuel had originally obtained the donated oil for other projects funded through the State Office of Energy Resources, and there was still some remaining. ‘While looking for a worthy recipient for our remaining biofuel, I met up with Reada Evans, of the Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation,” said Deedee Chatham, business development director of hudsonecofuel. ‘She’s in charge of education at the lighthouse, and passionately spoke of their objective of heating the lighthouse with a cleaner emissions profile.”

Fuel for the lighthouse has to be transported by boat to the island in 55-gallon drums and pumped up the hill to storage tanks inside. This winter the boat is also bringing along smaller containers of hudsonecofuel’s bioheating oil to be blended with the low-sulfur diesel used for heating.

Joe Davis, Facilities Manager and Boat Operator for Rose Island Lighthouse receives B100 biodiesel from Eric Drew of Drew Oil. Julie Capobianco, Renewables Program Manager for RI Office of Energy Resources looks on.

‘The logistics of maintaining the lighthouse are complicated by its location in the center of Narragansett Bay,” noted Johnson. ‘The cleaning action that this new biofuel blend creates in our tank, and also the cleaner, more efficient combustion we will get in our boiler, should help reduce maintenance costs as well as pollutants.”

Using biofuel for heating lowers the greenhouse gas emissions of traditional heating oil. The fuel smells better and releases less particulate matter into the environment, which is good news for people with asthma and other respiratory conditions. Biofuels are becoming an increasingly important source of cleaner energy that also strengthens energy security by lessening US dependence on imported oil. The bioheating fuel used to heat Rose Island Lighthouse was produced from soybeans grown by American farmers.

For further information contact the Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation at (401) 847-4242 or visit www.roseislandlighthouse.org.

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