By Bryan Wroten
The Ohio Development Services Agency has approved a $46,800 loan to the city of Avon Lake for a propane vehicle conversion project.
The city has been considering purchasing propane conversion kits for some of its vehicles for years. Ward 2 Jennifer Fenderbosch has been pushing for this move, arguing the city would save money in the long run and see a quick return on its investment.
“I think what is important is, this would be a beginning step for surrounding communities to find ways to save money by an alternative fuel project,” she said. “I’m thrilled Avon Lake was given the chance.”
It’s a zero-interest loan, she said, and the city can pay back the loan before the first payment is due. It’s truly seed money to go back into another fund, she said.
Mayor Greg Zilka said he was pleased with the news of the loan. Using alternative fuels, such as propane and compressed natural gas, will be the future, he said.
“Once municipalities see the wisdom in doing that, propane gas stations will be springing up and being more convenient,” he said.
At this point, the police department and Avon Lake Municipal Utilities are the ones in line for conversion, engineering Manager and interim service Director Joe Reitz said, as the police department and ALMU vehicles get the most mileage. The vehicles have to have less than 70,000 miles, he said, and the police department’s newest cruisers, the Ford Taurus model, aren’t eligible because of their good gas mileage. If the police department decides to go with another car maker, he said, the conversion would work for a Chevy Tahoe or Caprice or a Dodge Charger as well. The Ford Taurus and Explorer models, of which the police department already has some, have back seats that are too small to fit a passenger comfortably.
Depending on how many vehicles the city converts this year, Reitz said, the loan could guarantee a propane fueling station at the service department in 2013. If there aren’t enough vehicles to convert this year, the fueling station would be installed in 2014. The city won’t convert any vehicles until the fueling station is in place, he said.
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