Alternative fuel transportation highlight of national event at Aims
October 20, 2012
Alternative fuel transportation captured the spotlight at the 2012 National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day at Aims Community College’s Automotive and Technology Center in Windsor on Thursday.
The event, called Odyssey, promoted the use of alternative fuel transportation and was a way for the public to learn more about the technology. Northern Colorado Clean Cities (NCCC), Aims Community College and GP Strategies sponsored the event.
One hundred people attended the event, which featured professionals from the alternative fuel industry and showcased electric cars and other alternative fuel vehicles at the Aims parking lot. Tom Hunt of the Governor’s Energy Office and Mark Sponsler from Colorado Corn were two of several speakers during the event.
“It’s really good to get the buy-in and to see all the attention here and to see all these vehicles outside,” said Hunt, a transportation fuels associate for the state.
Towns and cities from throughout the state were represented at the event.
“Municipal governments lead the way a lot,” Hunt said. “They take their responsibility with their city budgets very seriously. When they see the cost savings they can get, they really do kind of lead the way in that.”
Carl Chavez, the Pueblo County fleet director, drove up from Pueblo to participate in the event.
“The wave of the future is the electric vehicle,” said Chavez, who is charge of 1,200 employees who drive about 500 vehicles. “We’re seeing it in everything. You’re seeing it in city transit buses. I’m all for the alternative fuels in these vehicles because of the emissions and just for cleaner environment. I think that the cars actually run better.”
Chavez said he’s attended a lot of the alternative fuel events with the clean cities of northern and southern Colorado.
“I’m just trying to use it as a learning curve, and I’d like to implement it in Pueblo County as well,” Chavez said. “I think the public is responding quite well. I attend a lot of this stuff. It seems like the older people are really taking an interest in it.”
Sheble McConnellogue, executive director for NCCC, said Aims was one of many sites in the nation promoting alternative fuels to become less dependent on foreign oil.
“We’ve been at this since 1996 educating the people of many counties in northern Colorado about the importance of sustainability and being self sufficient and not relying on overseas oil,” McConnellogue said. “It’s been an uphill battle, but it seems to not be as steep in the last couple of years. The city of Fort Collins practices what they preach as far as the fleets in the city and county.”
Windsor resident Tracy Ochsner, the assistant operation services director for the city of Fort Collins, said Fort Collins is trying to be the leader in alternative fuels.
“We’re doing natural gas buses,” Ochsner said. “The fuel cost is a substantial savings. If you’ve been around the buses you’ll see that there are virtually no visible emissions, and they’re a lot quieter for passenger comfort.”
Ochsner said Fort Collins operates 50 percent (17 full-size) of the city’s bus fleet on compressed natural gas, with orders for 13 more replacements. By the end of 2014, the entire bus fleet will operate on compressed natural gas, which is a fossil fuel substitute for gasoline, diesel or propane.
Ochsner said Fort Collins has converted 75 percent of the golf cart fleet to electric from gasoline, and retrofitted two facilities for charging electric golf carts.
Last year, the city installed five charging stations at various city facilities, and it purchased more than 30 traditional hybrids and four neighborhood electric vehicles.
Ochsner said the city implemented green purchasing policies that include fuel efficient vehicles, alternative fueled vehicles and a strict anti-idling policy.
“These events are fantastic,” said Ochsner, who has been employed with the city of Fort Collins for 23 years. “Northern Colorado Clean Cities has been a supporter of city of Fort Collins’ efforts since about 1994. With their help, the partnership has really advanced our cause.”
Ochsner said alternative fuels are becoming more accepted because of the oil exploration that’s happening in the United States and that people are tired of buying petroleum from people that just don’t like the U.S.
McConnellogue said alternative fuels have come a lot way.
“Every day there’s something new, especially with Weld County and what they’re doing,” McConnellogue said. “Northern Colorado is definitely making an impact on the amount of foreign petroleum displaced by alternative fuels and advanced technologies.”