Clean Air Cities conference on natural fuels’ advantages.

When it comes to fuel consumption, what’s the optimal goal—reducing costs, decreasing  dependence on foreign oil, or guarding against depleting future energy resources? Ideally, the answer could probably be “all three.” Some local agencies have shown they’re well on their way to achieving all of those objectives, and invite others to join their efforts.

On  June 29,  the Rogue Valley Clean Cities Coalition discussed opportunities and challenges of conversion to alternate fuels, such as compressed natural gas. The special conference took place  at the Jackson County Parks Auditorium in White City. It sought to highlight the gains members experienced in moving their fleets away from standard  gasoline run vehicles.

Garry Penning, spoke for one of the agencies well ahead of the pack, Dry Creek Landfill. Teamed with Jackson County, the waste disposal agency recently received a $100,000 federal grant for a feasibility study on further uses of methane gas. 
At present, the Landfill’s bi-product provides power to 3,000 homes in its surrounding area. In addition, Dry Creek harnesses the capability to sell electricity to Pacific Power and Bonneville Power Companies through a system called Green Tags. Penning demonstrated a Compressed Natural Gas-powered street sweeper and a garbage truck Rogue Disposal & Recycling recently purchased for local use. 

Another forward-thinking agency, Rogue Valley Transit, boasts 18 of its 23 coaches run on natural gas. “The other eight use diesel, which had once been cheaper than gasoline,” said Operations Manager, Tim D’Alesandro. “Clean air was the driving factor in deciding on Compressed Natural Gas. Cost of fuel was another,  and it’s safe,  In safety training, they shot bullets through the tank, froze it, tried to get it to explode; it didn’t. It’s clean, and far less smelly than gas or diesel if you spill it on your shoe.”

Regarding cost effectiveness, Jackson County Fleet Manager, Mike James, stated alternative fuels will stand on their own. “CNG and propane are domestically produced.” His  power-point demo detailed  the breakdown of cost per gallon to fuel a van with or gasoline vs. CNG.  
• Miles per gallon, 12.65;  Gasoline $3.40 per Gallon;  CNG $1.41 per gasoline- gallon equivalent.   Vehicle Life 125,000 Miles.  Fuel Used in 125,000 Miles: 9,881 gallons.  CNG Equipment Cost, $14,000.  Department of Energy Rebate= 50 Cents per Gallon of CNG  used:@ 9,486 Gallons = $4,941 expected in rebates.

Cost Comparison: Gasoline total cost=  $33,595

Cost of  CNG + CNG Equipment:  Total Cost; CNG $13,933 + $14,000 = $27,933.    Savings over gasoline= $ 5,662.     

Clean Cities Board Chair, Mike Montero, asked the rhetorical, “How do we begin?” Then concluded the meeting with a familiar Asian riddle—“How do you eat an elephant? Answer—one bite at a time.” 
By F. C. Blake
Of the Independent

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