Oak Harbor’s fleet grows greener

The Oak Harbor public utilities city fleet is getting hip to the green.

The addition of two new Toyota Prius vehicles to the Oak Harbor city fleet not only saves green, the change is easier on the environment, too. Each Prius accommodates five people and averages 43 miles to the gallon, according to Public Works’ shop records.

In contrast, the 1995 pickup that will be replaced by one of the new, eco-friendly sedans only accommodated “two or three” people.

The cost savings of replacing the truck with the Prius will add up to $593 over the course of a year, according to Sandra Place, equipment and purchasing coordinator.

Shop records show the gas guzzling truck only got seven miles to the gallon, according to Place. The truck originally ran at 13 miles a gallon, but the mileage deteriorated over time, she said.

“I must add in that if the S-10 pickup was in good working order it would have been used more and the cost savings would have been even more,” she said.

On Jan. 20, City Council unanimously authorized the truck as surplus, meaning that it can be sold to another city or listed for sale at Public Works’ annual auction, which will take place April 4 at the Public Works shop.

One Prius will replace the truck in the city’s motor pool, which was used to transport engineering staff and other city employees to projects and meetings located both in and out of town.

Wastewater treatment plant staff will use the second Prius for grease trap inspections and for travel between city facilities. The second car is an addition to the city motor pool.

“Treatment staff currently use two three-quarter ton pick ups,” Cathy Rosen, director of public works, told council members. “With six employees is has been a challenge meeting job duties with only two vehicles.”

The city will purchase the four-door sedans, which are included in the 2009-2010 budget, through a state contract for $23,600 each, for a total of $47,200.

Local car dealers were also invited to submit bids to the city, but none were received.

Oak Harbor purchased its first gas-electric Prius in Feb. 2008 as part of a pilot program, and has found it to be very reliable and economical, Rosen said.

Since purchasing the car, city employees travelled 2,558 miles on less than 60 gallons of gas at a cost of roughly $195.

“I wish I only had to put 59.50 gallons of gas in my personal vehicle for the whole year,” Place said.

The city also owns two Ford Escape gas-electric hybrids, but was disappointed with their performance, she said, adding that the Escapes only get 23 miles to the gallon.

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