Aldermen OK spending $26,800 to convert vehicles for long-term cost savings
A proposal by the Port Washington Police Department to convert its squad cars to propane-fueled vehicles was approved Tuesday by the Common Council.
Aldermen approved spending $26,800 to purchase a conversion kit and install a propane station at the Street Department garage.
By approving the measure now, the city will ensure it receives a 30% credit for the dispensing station, officials said.
Aldermen were effusive in their praise of the program, saying it is a cost-saving measure that will also help the city in its efforts to go green.
“I think this is a great proposal,” Ald. Kevin Rudser said.
Propane-fueled vehicles aren’t new, and certainly aren’t new to the field of law enforcement, said Capt. Mike Keller, who researched the proposal for the police department.
“It’s a well-kept secret,” he said, noting the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department has been using propane-fueled squad cars for more than 20 years.
“They’re saving a considerable amount of money doing this.”
Officials have said the department is paying about $3.38 a gallon for gasoline, but propane would cost about $1.47 a gallon. That amount would be offset by a 50 cent per gallon credit, bringing the final cost to about $1 a gallon.
The payback begins immediately, officials said, adding that if the department had used propane to fuel two of its squad cars last year, it could have saved $16,300. This year, the department budgeted $60,000 to fuel its cars.
Squad cars aren’t outfitted with the propane system when they are purchased but must be retrofitted. The system costs about $5,500
The department would like to retrofit its newest vehicle, a Ford Interceptor sport utility vehicle, with the propane system this year, Keller said.
In addition, the department’s new Chevrolet Impala, also purchased this year, would be retrofitted if a conversion kit can be found, Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said.
The department typically buys two new squad cars a year, and it would retrofit those as they are purchased.
“Will the vehicles still perform at the same level?” Ald. Dan Becker asked.
Keller said the vehicles will run on either propane or gasoline. They will start with gasoline, then automatically switch to propane when appropriate, he said, although officers can manually switch them to run on gas when needed.
The performance will remain the same, he said.
Ald. Paul Neumyer asked whether other law-enforcement agencies are interested in converting their vehicles.
“There’s interest out there,” Keller said. “I think once the vehicle is out there and people see it, others will try it.”