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Alternative-Fuel Vehicle Grants Awarded In Allegheny County

Three companies, a nonprofit and a healthcare provider in Allegheny County have been awarded about $844,000 in state grants for alternative-fuel vehicles.

The Alternative Fuel Incentive Grants are meant to help organizations make the switch to compressed natural gas, propane or electric-powered light- to medium-weight fleet vehicles.

Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities was able to snag nearly 500,000 for its Western Pennsylvania Alternative Fuel School Bus Program, which will use $250,000 toward the purchase of 50 propane-powered buses.

Rick Price, executive director for the nonprofit, said the buses will eventually pay for themselves.

“Cost difference is only about $10,000 on a big bus, with the state picking half of that up,” he said. “So, if you turn around and look at your return on investments on those, a lot of those are under a year return on investment.”

Price said the buses will be used in school districts across western Pennsylvania, including Cranberry, Erie and Slippery Rock.

Another $216,200 will go towards obtaining 33 buses and shuttles that run on compressed natural gas and propane, as part of the nonprofit’s Western Pennsylvania Alternative Fuel Vehicle Program.

Price said propane is not only cleaner than diesel, it’s also more efficient.

“For the companies and the school districts that are purchasing buses, you’re going to see probably close to a $1.50 a gallon savings—at least a $1 savings a gallon in fuel costs,” he said.

UPMC was also awarded nearly $250,000 for 21 passenger vans powered by compressed natural gas.

Tim Nedley, senior director of materials management for UPMC, said the vans will be used for employee transportation, and should cut fuel costs by about 50 percent.

“Healthcare being tough as it is financially,” he said, “we can then use that saved money to reinvest in programs for research, other patient care, services [and] things like that.”

Nedley also said the new passenger vans will reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by more than 500 metric tons.

Air Star Transportation also got $50,000 to help purchase four electric shuttle buses; Yellow Cab will take its $39,200 to convert 14 taxis and shuttles to run on propane; and Civil & Environmental Consultants Inc. will purchase seven compressed natural gas vehicles with its $38,640.

The Erie, PA native has been a fellow in the WESA news department since May 2013. Having earned a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Duquesne University, he is now pursuing an M.A. in multi-media management. Michael describes his career aspiration as "I want to do it all in journalism."
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