Gov. McAuliffe: Hundreds of government vehicles transitioned to alternative fuels

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — More cars, trucks and buses in the commonwealth are operating on alternative fuels.

On Wednesday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced 319 government vehicles have been made the transition.

That’s 19 more than the goal he set forth by the end of his administration.

“I’m proud,” he said. “We’re a different state than we were three and a half years ago.”

The governor made the announcement at the Department of General Services central fleet facility.

Vehicles that have been transitioned include: light-duty propane vehicles, such as trucks, vans and police interceptors; heavy-duty propane vehicles, such as school buses; compressed natural gas vehicles, including sedans and refuse haulers; and electric sedans.

He said the transition cuts back on air pollution and the cost of fueling up.

“We have to lead in the nation on the new, clean sources of energy that we have,” said McAuliffe.

Alleyn Harned, Executive Director of Virginia Clean Cities, said in a release that the impact is wide-ranging.

“This is important because Virginia produces nearly no oil and has an economic and environmental opportunity to transition to cleaner domestic fuels,” said Harned. “Propane and natural gas and electricity are low-cost alternative fuels, often representing cost savings as much as $1 per gallon.”

The governor also presented Chesterfield County with the Governor’s Green Fleet Award for its leadership in the alternative fuels transition.

“Anything we can do to help change the environment through the way we work is always a win-win,” said Jeff Jeter of Chesterfield County’s fleet services.

Jeter said the county has 59 vehicles running on propane, including 26 school buses and sheriff’s department cars.

He said it has saved the schools and law enforcement tens of thousands of dollars that they can put toward something else in their budget. Jeter also said total fuel cost savings has been more than $135,000 for the county.

He said the biggest challenge was getting people over their fear of the switch.

“I had to sit down and meet with all of my customers and explain to them, you’re not driving a time bomb. Stop watching the movies on TV,” said Jeter. “These vehicles are actually safer than your gasoline and diesel engines that are on the road today.”

McAuliffe will continue to promote efforts to transition state and local government vehicles to alternative fuel through the remainder of his administration.