FORT WAYNE, IN - The 2009 Paul Dana Award was presented Oct. 14 to the City of Ft. Wayne for its dedication to converting its fleet of city trucks and buses to ethanol and biodiesel, according to Hoosier Ag Today.

The City of Ft. Wayne began its journey down the alternative fuel road in 2005, under the guidance of then-Mayor Richard Graham. That first year, it implemented a blend of B20 biodiesel into its diesel fleet, and began fueling its then-police fleet of 37 flex-fuel vehicles at the Lassus Walden Road location. Since then, it has used more than 180,000 gallons of biodiesel in blends from B2 to B20 and is on track to use over 50,000 gallons of biodiesel in 2009. The current Mayor, Tom Henry, has expanded the alternative fuels commitment and today its gasoline fleet has 379 flex-fuel vehicles. To better serve the winner's flex-fuel fleet, it was one of nine partners in the CICCA and Office of Energy Development Clean Cities Grant application funded from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (Stimulus Funds).

In addition, "idling reduction" programming has been implemented into medium- and heavy-duty city trucks, automatically shutting them off after 10 minutes of idling. Ft. Wayne also continues to purchase several hybrid vehicles each year for the city's vehicle pool and inspectors, reported HAT.

Larry Campbell, City of Ft. Wayne director of Fleet Services, told HAT that switching to ethanol and biodiesel has made a big difference in the quality of the air and the city's budget. "Our fleet drives over 10 million miles a year; and the size of our fleet has grown over the past five years, but our fuel consumption has remained flat."

The award was presented by Lt. Governor Becky Skillman who said Ft. Wayne is setting an example for other cities to follow. "Ft. Wayne clearly shares Paul's innovative spirit and has pursued its own innovative vision in bioenergy, which has also greatly benefitted our state."

Skillman noted that Indiana has moved forward on alternative energy without government mandates or penalties, "Our state has seen plenty of progress over the past 2 to 3 years without mandates, without restrictions, without higher taxes - just letting the private sector do what it does best." She said government has a role to play by implementing the right kind of policies but the free market works best and has allowed Indiana to make progress in the area of renewable energy.

Kellie Walsh, with the Central Indiana Clean Cities Alliance (CICCA), said Indiana started out with ethanol and biodiesl but is now branching out into other energy sources, "We are seeing a lot of interest in natural gas and propane power vehicles and even plug in electric hybrids." Acknowledging that a combination of all energy sources is necessary in renewable energy, Walsh said the award has been broadened and renamed the Paul Dana Excellence in Bioenergy Leadership Award, HAT reported.

This was the first time the award, which recognizes those who have exemplified leadership and innovative vision in the bioenergy industry, was not presented to an individual. Governor Mitch Daniels and Lt. Governor Becky Skillman established the award to honor the memory of Indy Racing League (IRL) driver Paul Dana, a strong supporter of Indiana's growing biofuels industry who was killed in a racing accident in 2006, according to HAT.

In 2006, the City of Ft. Wayne was ranked No. 1 on Government Fleet's 100 Best Fleets listing, remaining steady in the top ten ranking 2005-2008. The fleet is currently ranked No. 16 for the 2009 100 Best Fleets.