I've been writing about alternative fuels for several years now, and as I've reported on the struggles and successes of the biodiesel, ethanol, natural gas, propane and hydrogen energy industries, I've always felt that I was on the sidelines looking in. Now, I know there are a lot of skeptics out there (one fellow trucking journalist recently told me that biodiesel was "snake oil"), and a lot of fleet managers will resist and even refuse to use any type of fuel that doesn't come out of an oil well. That's their right. But I'm a big supporter, and I've recently made some decisions to become more involved in alternative fuels. First, I recently accepted an invitation from the State of Wisconsin's Office of Energy Independence to join an advisory panel that will help steer county, city, town and village fleets towards the use of sustainable, alternative fuels. Our first gig comes up later this month in the town of Spring Green, and I'll be reporting on that when the time comes. Secondly, in an effort to put my money where my mouth is, I just bought a "flex fuel" vehicle, which I am now running on E85 ethanol. The car is a 2001 Ford Taurus SE wagon that I bought on auction from the State's surplus fleet vehicle auction website. In the past five says since I picked up the wagon, a former University of Wisconsin fleet car, I've made three 200-mile round-trips to Chicago, and so far I'm very pleased with the performance of the vehicle. I'll be reporting more on that in due time as well. One thing I can tell you about the Taurus already: it has been very well maintained, a tribute to the University's fleet maintenance professionals. Oh, and I bought it for about $1,000 under blue book, and in my town E85 goes for $1.69.9 a gallon. Who says going green can't save you money?