What’s the Fuel of the Future? Green Fleet Seminar May Drive Change

It wasn’t all that long ago that Kane County’s Division of Environmental & Water Resources introduced a plug-in hybrid electric car to its fleet. Now, the division is thinking ahead and examining other alternative fuels for the county’s future.

The Division of Environmental & Water Resources hosted its first “Greening Kane County’s Fleet” seminar for government staff and elected officials on July 30. The event featured presentations and displays from a dozen different companies involved with alternative fuels and vehicles.

The purpose of the seminar was to educate county officials about the potential economic and environmental benefits of alternative fuels, such as Compressed Natural Gas and Liquefied Petroleum Gas.

County Board member and chair of the Energy & Environmental Committee Barb Wojnicki said the use of the electric car has already been a positive choice for local government and praised the division for looking ahead.

“Some of these technologies, such as the retrofits that convert existing fleet vehicles to hybrid vehicles, are surprisingly affordable and improve fuel efficiency,” she said. “This concept would be ideal for county vehicles that travel daily to various sites in Kane County, for example Public Health and Animal Control vehicles.”

In 2012, Kane County government adopted a Sustainability Plan that includes goals for integrating alternative fuels and vehicles into the government fleet. Additionally, Kane County government has endorsed the Sierra Club Cool Counties program with the intent to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from County operations.

Green Fleet displayThe seminar showcased a variety of new technologies, including vehicle retrofits and plugless electric vehicle charging stations, and highlighted funding opportunities for fleet improvements available under the Drive Clean Chicago program and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s Chicago Area Green Fleet Grant Program.

With the financial incentives currently available, some of these alternative fuel vehicles and technologies may be within reach for Kane County government in the near future.

A shift toward other fuels like CNG will take more time and planning, as the fueling station infrastructure would need to be developed before vehicles could be converted. Since Kane County has already been expanding its infrastructure of electric vehicle charging stations, other alternative fuels may not be far behind.