Wednesday, May 11, 2011

KCPD and alternative fuels

The December issue of our Informant newsletter discussed the Kansas City Police Department testing out some alternative fuels for our fleet of vehicles. We're no longer just dipping our toes in. We've committed 12 vehicles to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and are considering LPG/propane, as well.

KCPD's fleet of vehicles uses about 1.3 million gallons of fuel annually. With gas prices as high and volatile as they've been lately, it is incumbent on us to be prudent with taxpayer dollars by investigating cheaper alternatives to gasoline. With federal stimulus grant funding, we purchased two Chevy Impalas that run on CNG at the end of 2010. They're having radios installed right now and will be out on the streets very soon. Ten Ford Crown Victorias also are about to be converted to run on CNG. These twelve vehicles will be assigned as "administrative cars," meaning they will be used either by commanders or detectives. They will not be used in patrol. The primary reason for that is because the CNG tanks housed in the cars' trunks take up a decent amount of room and don't leave enough space for the considerable equipment patrol officers must have in their vehicles.

Our Fleet Operations unit also is considering purchasing a van for our Supply Section that runs on liquid propane, as well.

Compressed Natural Gas currently costs about $1.40 per gallon, and propane is about $2.86 (although they have different calorific values). Both fuels are produced domestically. CNG and liquid propane both are less likely to ignite in a crash than gasoline, and they both produce lower polluting emissions.

This also is the last year Ford is making the police staple Crown Victoria, and we're looking at a number of possibilities for its replacement. Fuel economy will be an important factor.