CORVALLIS, Ore. — Come summer, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office patrol fleet will have a new look – at least inside the trunk – where new propane tanks will be.
The Sheriff’s Office is converting most of its patrol fleet from current gasoline vehicles to dual gasoline and propane vehicles – something that it says will not only save the department money in the future, but will also decrease its carbon footprint.
BCSO is teaming up with students at the Advanced Transportation Technology Center in Lebanon, a program through Linn Benton Community College. Under supervision, the students will help install propane autogas conversion systems in the vehicles within the next few months.
“It’s better for the county and it’s better for our students because they get a lot more real-world experience,” said Bryan Schiedler, the ATTC Department Chair. “It’s better for the environment, it’s cheaper in the pocketbook, the technology exists, and it’s just the way we need to start looking for our own energy independence in the US.”
Propane is cheaper than gasoline – Schiedler says right now it costs around $1.55 a gallon – and experts say it is one of the lowest carbon emissions fuels.
Benton County Commissioners have authorized BCSO to use up to $84,000 on the project, and despite the high upfront costs, the Sheriff’s Office says the conversions will save money in the long run.
“You can save $2 a gallon– so that’s where the economics comes in,” Schiedler said. “This is a win-win-win situation really when looking at alternate fuels.”