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Fleet fuel use scrutinized

How far are Summit County employees willing to go to reduce fuel? The Summit County Council took a hard look at fuel use among the county fleet as part of the sustainability plan during a Sept. 12 work session.

The county carbon emissions reduction goal is to reduce emissions at county facilities13 percent by 2013. The county fleet is responsible for 32 percent of the county’s total carbon emissions.

As things now stand, the county is having a difficult time staying under budget due to mountain fuel costs.

"This year, every one of my fuel budgets is going to run over because we didn’t have enough money budgeted, although we did ask for it," Public Works Director Kevin Callahan said. "We’re going to be fine in the overall budget, but the cost of fuel has been going up, and we’re really challenged to be able to get our job done and stay within our fuel budget."

While the county already has an anti-idling ordinance, they would like to explore more ways to encouraging people to drive more efficiently.

"Such as combining your trips and thinking about how you are using your vehicle – thinking about as if it were your own and you have a budget you are trying to manage," Callahan said.

The county fleet committee recommended portable tire pressure equipment for the vehicles to keep the tires inflated.

"In my opinion, if you have a car in Summit County, you are responsible for that tire pressure every Monday morning," County Council Chair David Ure said. "Those tires will make the difference of three or four miles per gallon if they are properly inflated. And if we as a council have to pass a policy on this to keep them to it, then so be it. "

Ure added that if you just ask everybody in the department to maintain their tire pressure, it won’t be done.

The committee also looked at having just one set of vehicles that could be used by different departments.

"And as you can imagine with the current situation where you have certain kinds of vehicle assigned to people, we didn’t have a lot of people volunteer to say, ‘Take my vehicle away and put it in the pool,’" Callahan said.

For the longer term, the committee recommended the council adopt a policy to transition the majority of the fleet to compressed natural gas vehicles (CNG), while using lower emissions vehicles, such as hybrid sedans and electric vehicles, where CNG isn’t practical.

"I think part of looking at the whole system is looking at what are our needs, how are we using our resources and what can we do to do better," Callahan said.


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