PENDERGRASS, GA --- Jackson County Georgia Sheriff Stan E. Evans announced that the department has begun conversion of its patrol cars to a hybrid propane fuel system. The county has fully converted nine patrol cars and intends to convert an additional 16 vehicles.

In a press conference, Sheriff Evans said that the department reviewed alternative fuels such as propane (LPG) and natural gas (CNG) as a way to reduce gasoline expense.

"When we first started this process we considered natural gas, but learned that there were issues with performance such as acceleration and power, Evans said.

Evans discussed the other benefits of propane adding, "The price of propane is less than regular unleaded fuel and we receive a 50 cent-per-gallon rebate from the government for using alternative fuel. Jackson County was able to purchase the propane systems on seized drug funds, meaning no taxpayer money was used in the vehicle conversions."

The hybrid propane system is supplied by American Alternative Fuel of Castleton, NY. The propane conversion kit is designed so that each vehicle has two independent fuel systems.

Geoffrey A. Hoffman of American Alternative Fuel explained how a hybrid propane vehicle operates. "The vehicle starts on gasoline every time, then builds temperature and switches to LPG within approximately a minute," Hoffman said. "The driver is able to run the car to empty on LPG and the vehicle will signal that it is automatically switching back to gasoline."

Hoffman also said that the time required to fuel hybrid propane vehicles is substantially less than those using natural gas.

The press conference ended with a fueling demonstration from Georgia Gas, providers of the propane and propane pump. A Jackson County Ford Police Interceptor re-fueled at the on-site station in approximately two minutes. The fueling stations operate in the same manner as traditional gas pumps. Each vehicle has a separate propane fuel cap for filling the propane tank.

Force 911 provides installation of hybrid propane fuel systems and will work with Jackson County on additional vehicles that will be outfitted with the propane system.