Bently Biofuels opens on Buckeye

A working monument of American innovation opened off Buckeye Road in Minden on Tuesday.

Bently Biofuels Outpost is Nevada's first full-sized alternative fuel station and LEED-certified convenience store.

Minden businessman Don Bently, owner of Bently Biofuels Outpost, stopped by the station wearing a lime-green tie to commemorate the eco-friendly opening.

"It's a great day for an opening " the middle of a recession," he joked.

The Outpost has three fueling islands, two for regular automobiles and one for commercial trucks. Patrons will find three types of Bently's homemade biodiesel: B5, B20 and B99.9. The numbers correspond to the percent of biodiesel blended with regular diesel.

The station also offers two blends of ethanol, E10, which can be used in all gasoline cars, and E85, which can be used in flex fuel-designated vehicles.

On Tuesday, prices ranged from $3.90 to $4.85 per gallon for the biodiesel and $3.10 to $3.46 per gallon for the ethanol.

Bently Biofuels General Manager Carlo Luri runs the production factory east of the new store. Since 2005, he's been producing biodiesel from used cooking oil and other vegetable oils.

"The whole idea is that we are not dependent on fuel sources of other countries," Luri said.

He said biodiesel comes from a localized, renewable resource, vegetables, and creates significantly less pollution than normal fossil fuels. He also believes that the alternative energy industry will create millions of new jobs.

Before the grand opening, recently-hired store employee Karen Hall toured the biodiesel factory.

"We're learning all about the fuels, so we can answer customers' questions," Hall said. "I knew the Outpost was going up, and I decided to apply because it's a great thing to get involved with. There is not another one of these in Nevada. We should all be excited about having it."

Luri explained the building itself. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification requires not only eco-friendly building materials but green building practices as well.

Building materials were solicited from local suppliers to save on transportation costs. Site clean-up followed certain criteria, including the recycling of scrap products.

The building was designed to maximize energy efficiency. Skylights light the main store in the day. Solar tubes, cylindrical portals with powerful lenses, light the bathrooms. Hot water and heat are provided by solar thermal panels behind the store. The canopy over the gas pumps is slanted to the south and will soon be equipped with solar electric panels to provide electricity.

Luri is especially proud of the outdoor LED lights.

"They are 70 percent more efficient," he said. "At night, they produce a beautiful white glow."

Luri said energy-efficient technologies can be expensive, but that the money is more than made back through energy savings.

"It might cost more money up front, but it's worth in the long run," he said.

Outpost Retail Manager Lindsay Hassett was tasked with filling the store's shelves and bamboo cabinets with a rare mix of goods: 60 percent organic and health-oriented items with 40 percent traditional items.

"There's been this resounding movement towards healthy foods," she said. "But will there really be support for it?"

Hassett is betting there will be.

"A normal convenience store, like 7-Eleven, has their menu, and that's it," she said. "Our challenge is take a whole-foods market, to take a Safeway, and shrink it down to the size of a 7-Eleven."

Hassett said the Outpost will emphasize made-in-Nevada products, offering Killer Salsa, Tahoe Creamery ice cream, Alpen Sierra Mountain Roasted Coffee and sandwiches and soup from Cafe Girasole.

Both Hassett and Luri hope a bike rack outside the store will attract those eco-conscious guests who need something specific and don't want to drive to Trader Joe's in north Douglas. A high-stool seating area, informational kiosk and other amenities might entice customers to stay a while.

"The economic climate is tough," Luri said, "but people are excited about this."

"Except for a few goof-ups," Bently said he was pleased with the station and convenience store.

Bently pointed out a crack in the floor and expressed displeasure that there was no urinal in the men's restroom, just a toilet, and that the soap dispenser dripped on the floor.

He was assured by employees those details would be taken care of.

"And the angle of the solar panels are wrong," he said. "Other than that, everybody did pretty good."

Marshall McDonald fueled up his 1994 truck with 400,000 miles.

"It gets better mileage with the biodiesel," he said.

McDonald, a regular at the Bently pumps, said the prices are among the cheapest in the area.

He said he spends about $120 to fill the truck.

Bently Biofuels Outpost is located at 1350 Buckeye Road. Fuel stations are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and accept cash, credit cards and ProFleet payments. The convenience store is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

For more information, call 783-8039.


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