HARTFORD, CT – The State of Connecticut wants to add more hybrids and traditional high-mileage, gasoline-powered compact cars to its vehicle fleet in order to bump up fuel efficiency, according to the Web site www.theday.com.

Before it can take that step, it needs clearance from the U.S. Department of Energy.

A 2005 amendment to the federal Energy Policy Act of 1992 requires 75 percent of the cars and trucks states purchase to be alternative-fuel vehicles, according to Department of Energy spokeswoman Chris Kielich.

A 2007 amendment allows waivers and less complex exemptions for alternative-powered vehicles like the hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) and traditional high-mileage compacts like the Ford Focus, according to the DOE Web site.

To date, Connecticut has complied with federal law by purchasing 1,753 E-85s, vehicles that run on 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, and 390 bi-fuel vehicles that use natural gas and gasoline. The state has also installed special E-85 pumps at its four repair stations in Norwich, Hartford, Danbury, and Newington.

The State has applied to DOE for exemptions to the federal law that would allow not only more hybrids but also more of the traditional, gasoline-powered compacts like the Ford Focus, which gets 39 miles to the gallon. The state has 429 of the Focuses. Such changes would increase fuel efficiency and save money in operating costs.

Connecticut is seeking an exemption instead of a waiver since the latter requires more systemic changes to the entire fleet.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell has asked for a 10 percent reduction in transportation costs for this fiscal year and a 25 percent drop for 2009-10.