Fueling for the future - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Fueling for the future

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- Chattanooga city leaders are taking a closer look at buying cars that run on something other than gas.

Rising fuel costs and environmental concerns have them searching for alternative power.

Many foreign countries have been using alternative fuels for years and some say they want the Scenic City to follow suit to help the U.S. catch up.

The Alternative Fueled Vehicle Roadshow was a great place to start. Held Thursday morning at the downtown Doubletree Hotel, home of the first Level 2 electric vehicle chargers in the nation, experts educated leaders about lowering the city's gas bill in the long run.

Ian Skelton, Director of Natural Gas Vehicles for AGL Resources, parent company of Chattanooga Gas, says compressed natural gas, or CNG, will be part of the future.

"Inherently it's a cleaner burning fuel," says Skelton. "It's domestically produced, so we're not having to import foreign oil."

While CNG isn't used much by people at home yet, Skelton says it's a great alternative for cities.

"Large fleets of heavy duty trucks. Any fleet of vehicles that return to a central location," explains Skelton.

CARTA has used electric shuttles for 15 years. Even parking enforcement has an electric vehicle.

Brian Kiesche, fleet manager for the city of Chattanooga, is excited about jumping on the alternative fuel bandwagon. He plans to use CNG in the city's garbage trucks in the next year or two. They use 50 to 60 gallons of fuel a day, so at $1.50-$2.00 a gallon CNG is a bargain.

"It seems to be a natural fit because they use a lot of fuel and the emissions from the diesel is harmful to the environment," says Kiesche.

He says city officials are open to the idea and wait on the money to be approved. While these vehicles may cost more up front, Kiesche says the fuel savings make up for it.

"Within three years we can begin to show savings, going forward on operating costs," says Kiesche.

If the garbage trucks begin running on CNG successfully, Kiesche wants it to then be used in Public Works, Parks & Recreation, and police vehicles.

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