Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Dane County Begins Converting Vehicles to Cheaper, Cleaner Fuel Source

April 29, 2010
Joshua Wescott, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606
County Executive

While Gas Prices Rise, County Parks Trucks will Soon Fill Up for 85 Cents a Gallon, Saving Tax Dollars 

Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk announced today the county will begin converting certain county-owned vehicles to a cleaner-burning alternative fuel that costs much less than gasoline and greatly reduces harmful emissions that cause dirty air and smog.

The alternative fuel is called compressed natural gas (CNG) and costs the equivalent of 85-cents a gallon gasoline.  Dane County is utilizing a $370,000 federal grant to construct a CNG fueling station at the County Parks offices on Robertson Road and help purchase seven trucks for the Parks Department and one vehicle for Planning and Development that run on CNG.  These vehicles will be purchased as part of the county’s normal vehicle replacement schedule.    

Each CNG vehicle will save taxpayers an estimated $1,500 in fuel costs each year.

“The fuel we use to heat our homes, cook our food, and dry our clothes can now be used to run our cars and trucks,” Falk said.  “By utilizing the cleanest burning fuel available today, Dane County is doing its part to reduce our country’s reliance on foreign oil with the added benefit of saving tax dollars and helping clean up the air at the same time.  It’s clean, it’s green, and we can do it right here in Dane County."

Falk made the announcement at the Dane County Landfill with the county’s first CNG vehicle and a portable CNG filling station in the background.  That portable CNG filling station is part of a Biogas to Vehicle Fuel Demonstration Project developed and purchased by a number of partners including Dane County, Cornerstone Environmental Group, Madison Area Technical College, Unison Solutions, ANGI Energy Systems and Alliant Energy.

Unlike gasoline and diesel fuel, CNG is inexpensive, supplies of natural gas are abundant, and increased use of CNG as a transportation fuel has substantial benefits for the environment.  According to U.S. EPA, CNG use reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 25%, nitrogen oxide emissions up to 60%, ozone-forming hydrocarbon emissions up to 75%, carbon monoxide by 90% and produces little or no particulate matter.  Elevated levels of particulate matter have resulted in several Clean Air Action Days called by the Dane County Clean Air Coalition and air quality watches called by the state Department of Natural Resources this winter and spring. 

In addition, because the fuel burns so clean, natural gas vehicles cost less to maintain. They show significantly less engine wear, spark plugs last longer and oil changes are needed less frequently.

"Dane County continues to be a leader in creative ways to explore and use alternative energy resources,” said Supervisor Matt Veldran, Chair of the Dane County Energy Task Force.  “The CNG project is just one more practical example of how Dane County is increasing its use of alternative energy."

Falk noted the county has also begun exploring installing technology that in the future could convert renewable biogas given off by the decomposing trash from landfills into compressed natural gas.  Instead of needing a utility natural gas line to connect the CNG filling station to, the county could connect a future CNG station right to a landfill site.  This process wouldn’t affect the county’s current work converting methane at the landfill into electricity, which generates more than $3-million a year for taxpayers.  The county earns those dollars by selling the electricity to Madison Gas and Electric. 

The U.S. Department of Energy awarded the state of Wisconsin $15-million for clean transportation projects.  Dane County applied to the Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence -- $250,000 for the CNG filling station and $120,000 for the new CNG trucks.  The dollars for the new trucks are part of a matching grant, meaning the county will match those dollars ($120,000) to complete purchase of the new trucks between now and the end of 2011.

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