Oregon sheriff saves big with 10 propane patrol cars

The Polk County Sheriff's Office expects to save more than $20,000 every year by running 10 patrol cars on propane autogas, including seven Ford Crown Victorias, two Chevy Tahoes and one Ford F-350 pickup truck.

The law enforcement fleet began switching to autogas in March 2013 through Blue Star Gas, which provides the Alliance AutoGas program for West Coast fleets. Auto Additions of Salem performed the bi-fuel vehicle conversions while Blue Star Gas installed an on-site fuel station and delivers year-round fuel supply.

"The sheriff's office was looking for a way to save money on the fuel costs, as patrol cars travel an average of almost 25,000 miles each year and fuel bills are very noticeable each month," said Sergeant Mark Garton of the Polk County Sheriff's Office. "Not only is there a 50-cent-per-gallon federal tax credit for operating on alternative fuels like propane autogas, filling up with autogas also costs substantially less than gasoline. We expect to save thousands annually on fuel costs alone by operating autogas vehicles."

Sergeant Garton says the new clean vehicles could operate up to 10,000 miles between regular services since autogas is a cleaner burning, higher octane fuel than gasoline. Deputies say they haven't detected any loss in vehicle performance since switching to propane-powered cruisers.

As part of Alliance AutoGas, Blue Star Gas provides a complete program to help fleets switch to propane autogas, including autogas vehicle conversions, fueling, fuel station installation, staff safety training and ongoing technical support. Alliance is the exclusive U.S. distributor of autogas systems from Prins, the worldwide leader in clean propane autogas engine technology. The versatile bi-fuel Prins Vapor Sequential Injection (VSI) system can revert to gasoline automatically if the autogas tank happens to run low, and can also be moved from retiring vehicles to newer ones with very little vehicle downtime.

"The ability to switch back to gasoline is a tremendous option for our fleet because in an emergency situation, we not only have a full tank of propane but also a backup full tank of gasoline," said Sergeant Garton.

Propane autogas is the most widely used alternative fuel in the world, with a total of 18 million autogas vehicles globally. U.S. autogas fleets currently save upwards of $2 per gallon on fuel costs versus gasoline, and they also save money on maintenance since autogas is so much cleaner than gasoline. Autogas is also a domestically produced fuel, with 98 percent of the U.S. autogas supply made in America.

"The Polk County Sheriff's Office is one of many U.S. law enforcement fleets discovering the benefits of switching to propane autogas," said Brett Flanigan, Blue Star Gas director of sales. "No matter what a fleet's priorities are for switching to alternative fuel—from saving money on fuel costs to reducing pollution to decreasing our nation's reliance on foreign oil—running vehicles on autogas is a smart choice."