It seems things are happening faster than we can blog about them. Last week we converged on Wilmington for the triumphant return of B100 to that community.
Our ribbon cutting was on May 21st. Tropical storm Alberto was hovering off the South Carolina coast and the surf was up. McCayne scored us a beach house and everyone from Piedmont went along.
Paul and I took down the first load of fuel. When we arrived in mid morning temporary power was rigged up but the card swipe was not talking to the dispenser.
We jumped in the ocean, held a small company wide retreat, then headed to Tidal Creek Coop for the ribbon cutting. It was a blast. Over 50 people showed up. Some media, some board members of our Coop, and some new drivers thirsty for fuel.
This location rose from the remnants of Cape Fear Biofuels, a Wilmington Coop that had already built the B100 community. We had sold them fuel in the past. And we did some educational stuff with them. I have long argued that theirs was the best looking logo and short truck in the movement.
Wilmington is outside of our usual “100 mile footprint,” but after persistent pressure from former Cape Fear enthusiasts, we decided to bite the bullet and open in Wilmington. We can thank our 2011 board of directors for pushing us over the edge on this one.
One of the cool things about this ribbon cutting was that we were constantly “interrupted” by people wanting fuel. Kevin pulled in from Go Eco Disposal with an eye popping garbage truck—delighted to be able to move his fleet back to B100. Aaron pulled in with a cherry Mercedes that he had bought at auction from the Abundance Foundation years ago. He had a surfboard lashed to the roof rack.
Most people were simply topping up fuel tanks—but we put 124 gallons into the world on the spot—in between the speakers and such. Larry’s Beans was there. They awarded a framed photograph to the Tidal Creek folks—one tank welcoming the next tank into the world. Tidal Creek sells Larry’s Beans coffee and they were there all day providing samples of a new iced summer brew.
Lacey came down from Triangle Clean Cities. They helped fund the project with DOE money from their Blue Skies initiative. Craig Harris from Tidal Creek emceed the event, mentioning that 2012 is the United Nations year of the Coop. One of the principles of cooperative businesses is that coops help other coops—and I have to say Tidal Creek has been exemplary in living up to that ideal. Bill Ladd also spoke. He’s a former Cape Fear board member who did the electricity for this project.
Christopher Yermal from Old School Re-Builders spent some time describing the many recycled products that went into the building’s construction. The building is a masterpiece—now awaiting its new green roof.
Of our six previous locations on the B100 Community Trail, three of them are inside sheds, and those three are far and away our highest performing from a maintenance standpoint. North Carolina winters are perfectly suited to passive solar heating. Give us a little glazing on the south side of the building, and our fuel stays happy even in the dead of winter.
We already have new Wilmington members telling us that since Wilmington is warmer than the Piedmont there should be no need for petroleum adulteration next winter.
After the ribbon cutting we headed up the street to the arboretum for our annual membership meeting. Brian Gullette, our board chair presented our 2011 Annual Report, including our latest Lifecycle Analysis, and we elected a new round of directors—picking up two new board members in Wilmington.
My favorite takeaway from the annual meeting was a member talking about how each month he and his wife review their credit card statements, and how “Piedmont is our favorite bill of the month.”
I should note that it is a Piedmont Biofuels tradition to hold our annual meeting in those cities where we have newly opened dispensers. When we opened in Durham we held our annual meeting at Duke University, inside a Peak Oil conference. When we opened in Raleigh we held our meeting at the MacKimmon Center of NC State courtesy of the NC Solar Center. It feels good to keep that tradition alive—especially when it entails crashing surf.
After the annual meeting we retreated to our beach house to discuss company stuff into the night. The next morning we awoke, jumped in the ocean, topped off the Tidal Creek Tank, and headed for home….
Now there are seven Piedmont operated locations of the B100 Community Trail. If you are headed to the beach this summer, don’t forget your Piedmont membership card, and once you have a full tank, you can get all of your groceries at Tidal Creek Cooperative.