Garfield County among those selected for alternative fuels project |

Garfield County among those selected for alternative fuels project

Refuel Colorado Fleets, a pilot project to boost the use of alternative fuel vehicles in public and private sector fleets, announced this week that Garfield County and eight other Colorado counties have been selected for the project.

Other counties selected for the year-long pilot are Routt, Larimer, Boulder, Jefferson, Adams, Mesa, Montezuma and La Plata.

Energy coaches employed by four nonprofits will help business and government fleet owners work together with auto dealers, fuel providers, business leaders and local governments to pursue or expand use of alternative fuels.

“The Refuel Colorado Fleets energy coaches will support the adoption of alternative fuel vehicles,” said Jeff Ackermann, director of the Colorado Energy Office. “Each community will determine what makes sense for them, be that electric, natural gas, propane, or other vehicle types.”

Energy coaching will be done by Northern Colorado Clean Cities, Denver Metro Clean Cities, Garfield Clean Energy and Four Corners Office for Resource Efficiency. The pilot project is being led by CLEER: Clean Energy Economy for the Region, a Carbondale nonprofit with expertise in alternative fuel vehicle technology, energy coaching and community engagement.

The four nonprofits will use energy coaching techniques already being used by CLEER to help households and businesses carry out energy efficiency upgrades in homes and commercial buildings. Energy coaching delivers a success rate of 70 percent or higher in helping property owners actually carry out efficiency upgrades, said Mike Ogburn, energy engineer for CLEER. The Refuel Colorado Fleets pilot project will apply these same coaching techniques to the evaluation of existing fleets, to reduce petroleum use and save money by using alternative fuel vehicle options.

A U.S. Department of Energy grant to the Colorado Energy Office is funding the project.

The nine counties were selected after a two-month survey of 21 cities and counties in western Colorado and along the Front Range.

“We selected the nine counties after finding a good match between three key aspects: fleet vehicle needs, auto dealer interest in alternative fuels, and viability of developing public refueling facilities,” said Ogburn.

“Not all fleet vehicles can be replaced by an alternative fuel vehicle, some auto dealers were more interested than others, and the availability of alternative fuels varies by region,” said Ogburn. “Our survey found communities with the best overlaps in these three areas, and the energy coaches will help those communities accelerate the shift to alternative fuels.”

In the coming weeks, energy coaches will work with businesses and local governments in the nine counties to analyze their fleets, including miles driven and age, vehicle type and purpose, to determine which alternative fuel would be optimal.

“We want to help fleet owners understand the benefits of alternative fuels, such as less air pollution, less reliance on foreign energy sources, and lower costs for fuel and maintenance,” said Maisa Metcalf, energy coach for Garfield Clean. “We’ll help them make wise buying decisions that will deliver a high return on investment.”

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