ASHEVILLE, NC – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has officially designated the Land of Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition in Asheville, N.C., as the 86th Clean Cities Coalition in the nation. A celebration was held Oct. 29 at the Baker Exhibit Center Lawn Event Area at The North Carolina Arboretum.

The Land of Sky received its designation from the DOE in late July.

"We're so pleased to officially add Land of Sky to the list of designated Clean Cities coalitions," said National Clean Cities Director Dennis Smith said. "The coalition's leadership and its stakeholders have already demonstrated an impressive commitment to reducing petroleum use in western North Carolina, and we look forward to seeing even more great things from them in the future."

Housed within the Land of Sky Regional Council, Clean Cities' newest addition traces its roots back to intensifying concerns over air quality during the mid-1990s.

"When we had the opportunity to pursue Clean Cities designation, we jumped at the chance," Coordinator Bill Eaker said. "We saw it as an effective means to not only improve our air quality, but also support national energy security."

In 2011, Land of Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition saved more than 500,000 gallons of petroleum, and it claims nearly 100 active stakeholders, including the City of Asheville, Public Service of North Carolina, Henderson County, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

"I've been working in the environmental field for 30 years, and I've never come across a program like Clean Cities, with such strong partnerships at the federal, state, and local levels, and in both the public and private sectors. We're excited to be a part of it," Eaker said.

Land of Sky administers Buncombe County’s transportation fleet Mountain Mobility, which has converted 10 passenger vans to propane autogas through Alliance AutoGas. Mountain Mobility saved an estimated $53,000 on fuel costs the first year alone of running 10 vans on propane autogas, according to Alliance Autogas.