Natural Gas – Conversions, Vehicles and Technology

City of Todelo Mayoral Hopeful Takes Interest in Natural Gas for Trucks

February 23, 2009

TOLEDO, OHIO - In the push to purchase 40 new refuse trucks to convert the engine fuel from diesel to natural gas, Republican mayoral candidate Jim Moody feels that the city would yield savings, according to the Toledo Blade.

However, the Mayor Carty Finkbeiner administration disagrees, stating that the conversion, while environmentally green, won't save on the kind of green that Moody is projecting.

Moody, predicted that using natural gas would save the City $300,000 a year on fuel, while creating less pollution and less noise. He also said natural gas vehicles are cheaper to maintain.

He joins a growing chorus of Toledo politicians calling for the City to get more aggressive in converting to technologies that don't rely on fossil fuels. Bill Franklin, director of public service under Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, said the administration is evaluating natural gas as a fuel in case it follows through on a plan to buy 40 refuse trucks to replace its aging fleet. So far, he said, the savings doesn't add up.

"It's one of the things we looked at. The problem is the payback. It's definitely a way to go green, but the cost for upgrading to natural gas is somewhere around $50,000 a truck, which, when you buy 40 trucks is $2 million," Franklin said.

Moody disagreed, saying the investment in natural gas-burning engines is reimbursable by the federal government. He also disputed complications relating to the size of the natural gas fuel tanks and the inconvenience of finding natural gas refueling stations.

He said New York City, a more congested community than Toledo, is switching to natural gas. And he suggested a city fueling station at the landfill that could also sell to commercial vehicles.

The City also is partnering with Toledo Area Regional Transportation Authority in a study of biodiesel fuel on TARTA buses and city trucks.

Democratic mayoral candidate Keith Wilkowski, who has called for the City to spend $5 million on a solar panel array at the Dura Avenue Landfill to generate electricity and other steps to put Toledo in the forefront of green energy, endorsed the idea of converting the city's refuse truck fleet to an alternative fuel.

"Repowering Toledo with clean energy is crucial to our economic future and greening our city's fleet is part of that. We should be moving aggressively to clean fuels and next-generation vehicles," Wilkowski said. According to Wilkowski, natural gas reduces particulate emissions by up to 97 percent compared with diesel.

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