Buncombe County to save $13,000 – Sheriff in North Carolina Runs Ten Cruisers on Propane

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The Sheriff’s Office in Buncombe County, N.C., expects to save more than $13,000 per year – and is displacing 20 tons of greenhouse gas emissions – by running ten Ford Crown Victoria cruisers on propane autogas. Buncombe received funding under SPADP, the Southeast Propane Autogas Development Program, administered by Virginia Clean Cities.

“We were looking at two main things when it came to switching to alternative fuel vehicles,” Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan said in a Virginia Clean Cities release. “We wanted to boost our bottom line in terms of fuel cost savings, and also to have cleaner-burning cars on the road.”

The county received SPADP funding for ten vehicle conversions and installation of a 1,000-gallon autogas fuel tank. The fleet conversion began in August 2011 and the ten propane cruisers, now boasting Prins bi-fuel systems, were deployed by February 2012. German Motor Werks in Asheville, N.C., performed the vehicle conversions, while Blossman Gas, the nation’s largest independent propane supplier and Alliance AutoGas founder, installed the autogas fuel station and delivers the propane year-round.

“Propane autogas was the practical fuel choice,” Duncan said. He said that there is no noticeable difference in vehicle performance,  except that the vehicles are quieter on propane.

Bi-Fuel ‘Peace of Mind’

The Buncombe patrol cars travel an average of almost 25,000 miles each year, and the fleet is using than 17,000 gallons of propane autogas annually.

The Prins fuel equipment can be transferred from older vehicles to newer ones, and “fleets like Buncombe County will save even more on fuel costs in 2013 with the recent extension of the 50-cents-per-gallon federal tax credit for alternative fuel,” VCC says.

“The ability to switch back to gasoline is a tremendous option for law enforcement fleets,” Duncan said. “It’s just one button on the center of the dash and you’re back to running on gasoline. That provides our deputies with peace of mind – to know that in an emergency situation, you not only have a full tank of propane but also a backup full tank of gas, giving you an effective operating range of about 500-600 miles before you have to refill the car.”

Fleets in western North Carolina are supported by the Asheville-based Land of Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition.