The Community Action Partnership of Orange County (CAPOC) now has a green vehicle to service its green Energy & Environmental Services Department, which provides energy conservation, weatherization, utility assistance, and other services to low-income residents in Orange County. Helping at-risk populations in Orange County since 1965, CAPOC had been looking for a way to add a green vehicle to its energy fleet, believing that it only made sense to have a clean fuel vehicle lead the fleet of trucks serving home weatherization program clients.
"The MSRC provided $16,500 in Clean Transportation Funding under its Medium-Duty and Medium-Heavy-Duty Vehicles Program to CAPOC to offset the incremental cost of the new CNG-fueled, 16-foot box truck. This truck carries the materials and the crews providing weatherization services to income-qualified residents throughout the county, particularly targeting households with seniors, people with disabilities, vets, and families with children under the age of five," said Kathy Kifaya, Director of Energy and Environmental Services for CAPOC.
CAPOC’s weatherization program installs a host of energy efficiency and health and safety measures in homes to ensure good indoor air quality and that gas combustion appliances are working properly and efficiently. The program provides appliance replacements for household items like stoves, furnaces, air conditioning units, and water heaters. Weatherization also provides other water and energy conservation measures such as low-flow showerheads, attic insulation, window and door repairs so that homeowners save on their utility bills as well as conserve resources and reduce their carbon footprint. Last year, they weatherized more than 2,800 residences.
The organization has a fleet of 13 vehicles, and when they needed to replace an aging 1990 truck, their Field Supervisor Tom Spangler was charged with shopping for the new vehicle. “As part of his research, he went to one of our reliable truck vendors - Tom’s Truck Center - and they said that if we really wanted to do something great for the community, we should ‘go green,’” explained Kifaya. “But because of our requirement for a competitive bid process, if we wanted to go green, the higher cost for a CNG vehicle would have stood out like a sore, or should I say, green thumb. We would have been required to do studies to show the benefits of a CNG vehicle and we just don’t have the time or the resources to do this.” She said they had funding through California’s federal LIHEAP (Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program) Weatherization Grant to purchase a new vehicle, but the cost for an alternative fuel vehicle would have made it cost prohibitive.
“They tell me it takes about $45 to fill the tank with CNG," Kifaya said. "It usually takes about $80 or $90 to fill the tank of one of our diesel trucks. Even though the range of the CNG truck is less than a regular truck, the cost savings on fuel and the fact that it is a near-zero emission vehicle is unbelievable.” With a CNG station right around the corner, refueling is easy.