EDEN PRAIRIE, MN - The City of Eden Prairie is almost halfway to its goal of having a 40-percent more efficient fleet of vehicles by 2015, according to the Eden Prairie News.

The City has implemented a "20-40-15" initiative, which calls for Eden Prairie to increase the efficiency of its facilities by 20 percent (compared to 2005 levels) and fleet efficiency by 40 percent, all by 2015.

With fuel use down 17 percent in 2009 compared to 2005, City Manager Scott Neal said the City is "about right on time" to meet its 2015 goal, reported Eden Prairie News.

According to a report from Cliff Cracauer, Public Works superintendent, the department has $25,000 a year to cover the difference in purchasing hybrid over traditional equipment, but the hybrid technology is still too expensive for it to be used on replacing vehicles. Two Ford Hybrid Escapes have been purchased for the City, but replacement funds also are used to switch gas engine vehicles to diesel. The diesel engine is more fuel efficient than gas engines but costs $5,000 to $7,000 more than gas engines. However, the diesel also lasts longer than a gas engine, which also makes up for the higher cost,

"In our fleet, most of our vehicles are around 10,000 miles a year, which makes the less expensive vehicle overall more cost effective for us," said Cracauer.

Since 2005, the average miles per gallon on city vehicles has gone up from 7.63 to 9.26 mpg.

Other ways the fleet has been increasing efficiency is by contracting out for instances when one large vehicle is more cost-effective than using three smaller city trucks; changing sand-salt mix used to melt icy roads to just salt, which cuts down sweeping costs in the spring; and shutting off equipment when not in use.

The City is also considering using more non-petroleum-based fuels in the future, such as E-85 and biodiesel. The state mandate is to use 5 percent biodiesel but the City's goal is to get that to 20 percent, said Cracauer.

More hybrid and electric vehicles will replace older vehicles in the city fleet as the technologies become more affordable, according to Eden Prairie News.