CATSKILL, NY - The Greene County Sheriff's Office has applied for a grant that could equip its existing fleet of vehicles to an alternate fuel system that would enable them to use either gasoline or propane, according to The Daily Mail.
Sheriff Greg Seeley said he put the county on a list seeking a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), which would fully pay to have the system installed.
Seeley test drove a vehicle that had been converted to the new fuel system, and said it operated at the same level as a conventionally gas-powered car. A sheriff in Georgia has already converted his entire fleet of vehicles, and has given the system high marks, Seeley said.
"NYSERDA is coming out with the grant, and a Georgia sheriff's office is already converting their cars to alternate fuels," Seeley told the legislature. "There is a button in the car - it runs on gasoline and starts on gasoline, and if you want to switch to propane, you can do that, too."
Seeley also said that while he has put in for the grant with the state, the county is not obligated in any way to convert the vehicles, and if they do decide to go through with it, there would be no cost to the county because the grant would fully pay for the conversion.
The new fuel system would be installed by a New Baltimore-based company, and would be maintained by the county's highway department, just as its conventionally powered vehicles are maintained.
Seeley said the goal is to save money on high gas prices, and give drivers the option of using either gas or propane - whichever is cheaper or more convenient at the moment. In addition, he said the vehicle is very efficient, cuts down on vehicle wear-and-tear, and "gets just as much power as a conventional vehicle."
Interim County Administrator Dan Frank said the return on investment would be immediate. "If NYSERDA pays for it, it would be an immediate savings to the county, and the cost of propane is about half that of gasoline," Frank said.
The cost of converting each car to the new fuel system would be $4,000, which would be paid for through the state grant. The sheriff's office has 20 vehicles, and the grant would be used to convert the entire fleet. Seeley expects to save between 40-50 percent on fuel annually, reported The Daily Mail.