With more than 775 vehicles – ranging from plug-in hybrids to bucket trucks – OUC’s fleet logs more than 4.7 million miles annually. So, on the road to reducing our carbon footprint, we’re using alternative fuels, purchasing more hybrids and even recycling automotive products to help our environment.
Adding Biodiesel to the Mix
As part of an overall plan to reduce emissions in our fleet, OUC has begun using “B20” – a blend of 80 percent petroleum diesel and 20 percent biodiesel – a clean-burning alternative fuel made from new or used vegetables oils and animal fats, including recycled cooking grease. Compared to petroleum diesel, biodiesel produces lower emissions, which is better for the environment. B20 has been integrated seamlessly into our fueling system without any changes to vehicles or fuel storage and distribution equipment.
Since 2006, 322,032 gallons of B20 have been purchased – and the reduction in diesel fuel has reduced OUC’s carbon footprint by 44 metric tons of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent). Biodiesel is currently used at OUC’s Pershing Fleet Center, and we plan to expand its use to our Gardenia site.
Soon, we’ll be able to fill up our tanks downtown. Thanks to a $2.5 million grant from the Florida Department of Environment Protection, Central Florida’s LYNX transit system plans to open a biodiesel blending facility and fueling station at its Orlando Operations Center that will be used by both OUC and Orange County.
Embracing fuel-efficient technology as a commitment to green initiatives, OUC is the first municipal utility in Florida to acquire a plug-in hybrid that gets up to 99 mpg. In addition to the plug-in, we have 11 other traditional hybrids in the fleet.
We’re moving forward with an agreement to develop the charging infrastructure, test and possibly purchase an all-electric vehicle with a 100-mile range (the Nissan “Leaf”), which is slated for release in 2010. We have also reapplied for a Clean Cities grant to purchase additional electric vehicles. In fact, Orlando will be one of the first cities in the country to road-test them.
For our linemen out in the field, we have ordered four hybrid bucket trucks and one auxiliary battery system to operate the aerial tower hydraulics. Bucket trucks are a promising application for hybrid technology since much of the vehicle’s work is done when stationary. The hybrid diesel-electric system allows the main engine to be turned off while crews operate entirely off the battery.
Environmentally Friendly Policies
OUC’s Fleet Division has incorporated a number of eco-conscious policies. We use earth-friendly products and take special care to dispose contaminated fuels according to environmental standards. Tires, batteries and oil filters are recycled through vendors, while freon, antifreeze and motor oil are handled on site. In 2008, OUC recycled 19,653 gallons of used oil.
We also have a vehicle idling policy that requires the engine to be turned off after five minutes. Diesel engines use about one gallon of fuel per hour when idling, so this policy saves about $4 per hour per vehicle.
Water is recycled, too – thanks to mini-water treatment plants and wash racks at the Pershing and Gardenia facilities that keep OUC vehicles clean.