The city's first biofuel station opened Thursday, offering diesel motorists a self-service fill-up at $3.25 a gallon for "green" fuel produced from recycled grease and fat, and locally grown canola seed oils.

The city's first biofuel station opened Thursday, offering diesel motorists a self-service fill-up at $3.25 a gallon for "green" fuel produced from recycled grease and fat, and locally grown canola seed oils.

The Rogue Biofuels "station" is just a 3,000 gallon tank and a pump at 1409 N. Pacific Highway, in front of Paradise Supply. State law permits motorists to pump their own diesel and biofuel, but Devon Grove, who owns Paradise Supply, will gladly pump for drivers who don't want to do it themselves.

The station offers 24-hour service with credit and debit cards, and payments can be made with cards, cash or checks during daytime hours.

The station has a tank for collecting household fat and grease, which also holds grease collected from 200 restaurants in the Rogue and Klamath basins and on the coast, said Chris Benware, company president.

Benware opened the station with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Then Jack Day of RoxyAnn Winery filled the tank of his Mercedes diesel sedan.

"Diesels can use biodiesel fuel " and they run quieter because of the extra lubrication in the fuel," Benware said

Biofuel users can get a tax credit of 50 cents per gallon on the first 200 gallons they use in a year. Benware said the tax break brings the cost nearly in line with petroleum-based diesel.

Gabe Rowland, Rogue Biofuels vice president, said getting a retail station is "an important milestone." Benware, Rowland and Jordan Beck, all 25, graduated in 2005 from Southern Oregon University, where they learned about biodiesel and green business practices.

They established a biodiesel manufacturing plant in Central Point last year and have since merged with Green Fuels of Oregon in Klamath Falls, where they now produce their biodiesel.

Benware, who lives in Klamath Falls and hauls the fuel to the Rogue Valley, said the company also sells wholesale biofuel to the Bend Biodiesel Co-operative and to farmers in the Applegate Valley.

He said Green Fuels tried unsuccessfully to get Klamath Basin farmers to grow canola seeds, but merging with Rogue Biofuels helped provided a steady supply of waste oils.

He said the business puts money in the pockets of restaurants that supply waste oils and uses geothermal energy in its manufacturing process.

"We're the only retailer in the Rogue Valley that sells biodiesel from locally recycled vegetable oils," Benware said.

The firm's motto is "Local restaurants, local farms, sustainable fuel." Biodiesel claims "green energy" status because it reduces the use of fossil fuels, and it may be added in small amounts to regular diesel fuels.

The process is also designed to have minimal impact on the growth of food crops.

"We're still pretty small," Benware said. "We're on the borderline between being in the black and the red. We've got 200 restaurant sources and our goal is to get to 400. That's what we need."

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.