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Oregon Police Department Goes Green; Reports Taxpayer SavingsSalem-News.com Staff
Polk County Sheriff's Deputies reported no change in vehicle performance after the switch to propane autogas.
(DALLAS, Ore. ) - One year after converting its gasoline patrol vehicles to propane autogas, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office - based in Dallas, Oregon - is reporting significant fuel savings and reduced emissions.
In March 2013, the department converted 10 patrol vehicles to propane autogas, and installed a 1,000-gallon on-site fueling station. Within 18 months, the department saved $25,000 in fuel costs and took advantage of a 2013 federal tax credit worth another $8,000.
“Our biggest expense besides personnel is fuel,” said Polk County Detective Sgt. Mark Garton, who manages the department’s fleet. “So, if we save $1.50 to $2.00 per gallon and we run 25,000 miles or more a year per car, that’s a lot of money.”
Blue Star Gas, one of the West Coast’s largest propane distributors, provides the department with its on-site fueling infrastructure, ongoing safety training, and technical support.
“We were able to implement a system for Polk County that had little impact on the normal operations of the deputies,” said Darren Engle, Director of Government Relations for Blue Star Gas. “The propane station was set up at the same location where deputies refuel gasoline vehicles, so the only real change was the addition of a propane refueling tank to their normal routine.”
According to Garton, deputies reported no change in vehicle performance after the switch to propane autogas. “I don’t hear any complaints at all about performance or get up and go,” he said. “I can personally tell that you get a little more oomph out of the propane fuel.”
As a result of the fuel savings, the department has been able to strategically deploy funding to other areas of need. “The salary of an officer isn’t $25,000, but it’s one of those things that if we save $25,000 here and another $5,000 there, that might be the difference between cutting back hours and someone remaining full-time,” said Garton.
According to the Propane Education & Research Council, propane autogas powered vehicles can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25 percent and reduce smog-producing hydrocarbon emissions by an estimated 40 percent in light-duty vehicles compared with gasoline-fueled vehicles.
Blue Star Gas calculated that Polk County has eliminated 67,400 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions by converting its vehicles to propane autogas.
“I hope other agencies in Oregon take a serious look at propane,” said Garton. “This is a very environmentally friendly state, and if people could understand the impact that propane fleets have on greenhouse gas emissions, they would see the switch just makes sense.”
Sources: Polk County Sheriff's Office/Blue Star Gas
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