The Colorado State Fleet Management agency is helping cut fuel consumption and enhance its protection of the environment. With approximately 6,000 vehicles in the state fleet, the potential for reducing the operation’s environmental impact is considerable. For Art Hale, Colorado State fleet manager, department of personnel & administration, division of central services, fleet management, it has become a nearly full-time occupation. “In 2007,” Hale says, “the Governor’s Energy Office released Governor Ritter’s ‘Greening Government’ initiative, which calls for the reduction of petroleum consumption by 25 percent in five years, or by June 30, 2012. As a result, we are working closely with our Motor Vehicle Advisory Committee, the Governor’s Biofuel Coalition, and the Governor’s Energy Office to help vehicle users and their respective departments understand the impact of the policy and develop strategies for reducing petroleum use.”
Hale reports that there are currently 687 E85 Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) in the Colorado fleet and plans call for adding more than 300 during fiscal year 2009. “We also have over 200 diesel vehicles and utilize biodiesel (B20) as much as possible,” he relates, “two dedicated CNG vehicles and approximately 75 Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs), with plans to add 200 in the next fiscal year.”
To help achieve the objectives of the governor’s initiative, Hale notes a list of things that the state fleet management agency is doing, including:
• Suggesting that every department purchase the most fuel-efficient models and including more vehicles with higher MPG ratings in the state’s purchasing program.
• Proposing an increase in the purchase of FFVs in the state fleet of five percent each year and eliminating
V-10 gas engines in one-ton rated vehicles and replacing them with diesels or smaller V-8s.
• Matching vehicles more precisely to the jobs they perform to improve MPG. This includes upgrading to diesel vehicles when off-road, heavy cargo and towing is required, a move that promises at least a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption and more biodiesel use.
• Replacing most 4WD SUVs with crossover type 2WD and AWD vehicles, and using diesel sedans, which offer improved MPG.
• Evaluating a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), retrofitted with lithium-ion batteries, that is currently achieving more than 100 MPG.
• Addressing the reluctance to fund the higher cost of some alternative fuel and high MPG models by finding economical ways to justify their purchase. This includes HEVs, which typically achieve a 20 percent increase in MPG when compared to the non-hybrid vehicles in the same size category.
• Pursuing funding for the installation of state-owned E85 and biodiesel fueling sites to maximize consumption of renewable fuels while minimizing costs through bulk purchasing.
• Establishing agreements with political subdivisions to share alternative fuel sites, benefiting the state fleet by allowing the purchase of fuel at a lower cost and helping cities and counties cover expenses associated with fuel management.
• Evaluating the use of vehicle-mounted global positioning systems (GPS) for the purpose of more efficiently routing state delivery services and reducing idle time and other fuel-consuming behaviors.
• Beginning an evaluation of auxiliary power units (APUs) on vehicles such as buses that accommodate disabled occupants, which could enable the vehicles to maintain heat in winter and air conditioning in summer, and enhance electrical backup so wheel chair lifts can be used without idling for prolonged periods.
• Instituting an anti-idling policy so all state fleet vehicle users to reduce unnecessary fuel consumption.
“The State of Colorado is very committed to employing energy management strategies,” Hale says. “Through the use of alternative vehicles and fuels, vehicle-based technologies and other practices we can reduce fuel consumption and air pollution.”