Massachusetts is the first state to mandate biofuel use for both home heating oil and diesel fuel. The partnership will mean more demand for biodiesel.

BioHeat is a blend of traditional home heating oil and renewable oils from soy or other sources, many of which are domestically produced. Legislation from Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick requires all home heating oil to include at least a 2% (B2) blend of biodiesel by 2010.

According to new research, a B12 BioHeat blend provides clean air benefits as good as or better than natural gas, says United Soybean Board (USB).

BioHeat represents “a seamless way to reduce emissions and petroleum use in the U.S.,” say the USB and the National Biodiesel Board (NBB). “The fuel works in home and commercial heating systems with no adverse characteristics. As a B5 blend, BioHeat has the potential to increase biodiesel demand by 450 million gallons annually, say USB and NBB.

Industry spokespeople say the mandate does not hinge on a biodiesel tax credit. “Focus groups have shown that a few-cents-a-gallon premium for cleaner-burning fuel is not a major turnoff to consumers,” says Paul Nazzaro, NBB’s petroleum industry liaison. “They were willing to ante up 4.5¢/gal. for the benefits of clean, renewable fuel, so I don’t see home-heating-oil pushback because of the costs. The benefits outweigh the costs.

“This is just phase one of soy’s expansion,” Nazarro adds. “You can bet the consumer will become enamored with the countless number of green products made from soy. They could be integrated into this fuel dealer network.”

There are already over 240 heating oil retailers using the BioHeat trademark to sell Bioheat, flying the Bioheat logo on their delivery trucks today, says Michael Ferrante, president of the Massachusetts Oil Heat Council, representing fuel oil retailers in the Bay State. “This is a marriage made in heaven.”