Propane Autogas Provides Resilient, Cost Effective Energy for Law Enforcement Vehicles
Polk County Sheriff’s Office
For some law enforcement agencies, the cost of operating and maintaining the department’s vehicle and equipment fleet can consume their budget. With approximately 1,400 pieces of equipment and a large county that spans 2,200 square miles, Sheriff Grady Judd of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) knew the strain of that cost all too well. Tired of dealing with volatile gasoline prices, PCSO, located in Winter Haven, Florida, began researching ways to reduce fuel costs and better its bottom line.
PCSO needed an energy source that could provide reliability and performance while making the most of the taxpayers money. After researching a variety of alternative fuel options—including electric, CNG, and hydrogen—Francis K. Hart Jr., fleet administrator for PCSO, found propane autogas to be “a no-brainer solution.”
Bi-fuel vehicles offer the department reliability and versatility, with the ability to run on either gasoline or propane autogas. The department has converted 300 vehicles since 2010 with plans to transition 50 more in 2021.
Sheriff Judd believes strongly that when budgets are funded by taxpayer dollars, it’s critical that money is used wisely. For PCSO, the switch to propane autogas provided lower fuel, infrastructure, and equipment costs for the department. Propane autogas vehicles provide the lowest total cost-of-ownership of any energy source with fuel costs between 30 and 50 percent less than gasoline or diesel.
In 2020, PCSO used 215,000 gallons of propane autogas, which equates to approximately $142,941 in cost savings compared to gasoline. Plus, the department was able to take advantage of additional federal funding, like the $0.37 per gallon Alternative Fuel Tax Credit, to save more money that PCSO was able to use for other department expenses.
It’s critical for law enforcement agencies to be able to respond during an emergency with no hesitation. Propane autogas has allowed PCSO to remain resilient in crises, including during hurricane response efforts in the region. With bi-fuel vehicles that have a 20-gallon propane tank and a 20-gallon gasoline tank, officers don’t have to worry about range anxiety because they are still able to refuel with either energy source if one isn’t available. Some emergency situations knock gasoline stations offline, but PCSO has been insulated from those interruptions by working with propane suppliers to have an autogas delivery truck on-site for quick refueling.
“Our first priority is being able to respond and maintain our 24/7 operation, and propane is a really easy way to accomplish that,” Hart Jr. said. “Now when we prep for hurricanes, we make sure the propane tanks are topped off and have autogas delivery trucks ready on-site.”
Serving and Protecting the Community
While cost savings were what initially attracted PCSO to propane autogas, they also saw propane as an opportunity to further their responsibility to serve and protect the community by reducing emissions. In 2020, PCSO estimates they reduced the fleet’s CO2 emissions by 2,038 metric tons. With the ability to reduce emissions while cutting costs, PCSO says they’re proud to save taxpayers money while helping the environment.
To learn about propane Autogas vehicles and the fleets that use them, visit Propane.com/Fleet-Vehicles.