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Green Fuels and
Alternative Vehicles
Save Towns Money

Donna Drewes
By Donna Drewes
Co-Director, Sustainable Jersey
Community Planner,
Municipal Land Use Center,
The College of New Jersey
Electric Charging Station
In 2011, the Borough of Avalon unveiled the very first municipal public charging station at the New Jersey shore. The charging station, the result of the public-private partnership with U-Go Stations, Inc., was installed at no cost to the borough.

With the rising cost of gas, many municipal officials worry about going over their fuel budget. The good news is that towns across the state have taken advantage of the many options to purchase more fuel-efficient and low impact vehicles.

By purchasing natural gas, propane, hybrid and electric vehicles, New Jersey towns are trading in polluting gas guzzlers for vehicles that produce fewer emissions. In addition to improving air quality, these vehicles ease our dependence on unsustainable and unstable foreign sources of fuel and reduce operating costs.

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) The Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA) opened the first publically accessible compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station in Egg Harbor Township. Nearly 474,000 gasoline gallon equivalents of fuel have been replaced by vehicles using CNG during 2011.

CNG is readily available and costs approximately one third less than gasoline at the pump. In addition, it produces up to 30 percent less greenhouse gas emissions compared to diesel and gasoline powered vehicles.

CNG is one of the cleanest transportation fuels available and unlike most petroleum products, the majority of CNG used in the United States is domestically-produced.

These environmental benefits are coupled with significant savings for fleet operators. Current prices for CNG provide a savings of $1.00 per gallon equivalent compared to diesel. Fleets across the country, including Waste Management, UPS, AT&T, Verizon and the US Postal Service are moving to this clean, less expensive alternative fuel.

CNG Fueling Station

The Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA) opened the first publically accessible compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station in Egg Harbor Township. Nearly 474,000 gasoline gallon equivalents of fuel have been replaced by vehicles using CNG during 2011.

ACUA President and Sustainable Jersey Board Trustee Richard S. Dovey reports that during 2011, fuel dispensed at the ACUA’s station has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by a total of 1,145 metric tons of CO2, and saved the ACUA more than $105,000 in fuel costs. The ACUA is using CNG trucks to collect trash and recycling across the county and region. Currently ACUA has 15 natural gas trucks on the road.

Eventually, the ACUA plans to convert its entire fleet of collection vehicles to CNG.

In March 2012, South Jersey Gas celebrated the grand opening of a compressed natural gas fueling station in Glassboro. The facility serves 16 of the company’s fleet vehicles and is open to other area fleets. South Jersey Gas plans to add another 13 CNG vehicles throughout 2012 and build five to seven more CNG fueling stations within the next five years.

The company will work with local municipalities interested in converting their vehicles to natural gas. There are four natural gas fueling stations in the region, including Waste Management’s Camden station and the Jitney Association’s Atlantic City station, which is expected to be operational soon. Two more stations are in development, one in Atlantic City and one in Newark.

Grand opening of CNG station in Glassboro

In March 2012, South Jersey Gas celebrated the grand opening of a compressed natural gas fueling station in Glassboro. The facility serves 16 of the company’s fleet vehicles and is open to other area fleets.

Biodiesel In Medford Township the yellow school buses transporting kids to and from school have been running on biodiesel for 14 years. The program has reduced the fleet operating expenses by $120,000. School district administrator Joe Biluck says that using soybean bio-fuels has dramatically reduced the amount of petroleum needed by the district, and is contributing to community efforts to improve air quality. Students are also learning about the role that agriculture can play in assisting with America’s energy needs. Since 1997, the Medford Public Schools have eliminated 123,376 lbs. of smog forming emissions and 2,408 lbs. of diesel particulate matter. Annually, the fleet of 63 buses travels over 750,000 miles and consumes roughly 89,000 gallons of biodiesel, displacing over 17,800 of petro diesel.

Westwood Borough is also using biodiesel fuel in some of its recycling trucks. The fuel they use contains used cooking oil from area restaurants. The borough has saved $18,207 on fuel and has been able to reduce particulate pollution by 120,180 pounds.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Montclair Township was the first New Jersey town to install public charging stations to accommodate the growing use of electric vehicles. The networked stations recharge battery-powered cars, including pluggable hybrids, for both the public and the municipal fleet.

In 2010, Sustainable Jersey awarded Montclair a $25,000 grant as part of the Small Grants Program, to purchase and install the series of four networked electric vehicle charging stations in the downtown business district. Montclair Mayor Jerry Fried explains that providing public access to charging stations for pluggable electric vehicles is one of the most important clean energy steps towns and cities can take over the next few years.

In 2011, the Borough of Avalon unveiled the very first municipal public charging station at the New Jersey shore. The charging station, the result of the public-private partnership with U-Go Stations, Inc., was installed at no cost to the borough. Avalon Mayor Martin Pagliughi encourages other municipalities throughout the state to consider electric vehicle charging stations.

Avalon put the municipal public charging station out to bid. U-Go Stations installed the station and maintains it at no cost to the borough. In return, the Borough of Avalon receives a percentage of the proceeds generated by the charging station.

Municipalities Are Buying Hybrid Vehicles Woodbridge purchased a dozen Ford Escape hybrids for its Code Enforcement Division after a one-year trial of a single hybrid car proved its cost effectiveness. The township also reduced the purchase price of the hybrid vehicles by more than $48,000 through state and county rebates totaling more than $4,000 per vehicle.

Edison Township is currently operating 38 hybrid vehicles for municipal operations and the police and fire departments. The city estimates they will save approximately $70,000 in fuel costs annually and lower the overall gasoline budget line by 7 percent.

Resources to Make the Switch Released in December 2011, New Jersey’s final Energy Master Plan mentions alternative-fuel vehicles for the first time. The Board of Public Utilities (BPU) set up an Alternative-Fuel Vehicle Working Group to assess the opportunities of switching to a variety of alternatives (including electricity, natural gas, propane and biodiesel). The BPU Workgroup was chaired by Chuck Feinberg, the Coordinator of the NJ Clean Cities Coalition and a supporter the Sustainable Jersey Green Fleet Program.

We hope that municipalities will consider switching to greener, cheaper fuel sources and hybrid vehicles when replacing or upgrading vehicles. Sustainable Jersey provides funding and workshops to local governments for sustainability projects. Visit www.sustainablejersey.com to learn more.

 

 

Originally published in New Jersey Municipalities, Volume 89, Number 5, May 2012

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