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Eager to save on fuel costs and carve a place in the citys green-friendly movement, Raleigh police have found a new way to power their blue-and-white squad cars: propane.
Yep, the same stuff found in the tank under your grill.
The department has converted 20 patrol cars from gasoline to propane, saving $22,000 on gas while helping Raleigh check another box on its energy-efficient scorecard.
Early reviews from the rank-and-file have been positive.
The policemen love them, said Lynn Graham, a sustainability manager for the city. They say the cars have more pickup. Which is a good thing if theyre after a bad guy.
The hybrid vehicles can also run on regular gas or E85 ethanol fuel, meaning officers can switch if their tanks run low.
The citys auto garage is one of a few shops in the nation certified to convert vehicles to propane and perform repairs on these vehicles.
A $69,700 grant from the Triangle Clean Cities Coalition paid for the first 10 cars to be converted last summer. Another 10 made the switch in May using federal money set aside for energy-saving projects.
We had to do something with gas prices spiking the way they were, said Doug Brugger, a Raleigh police captain. Were using a fuel source that is readily available.
After spending $1.9 million on fuel in last years budget, Raleigh police set aside $2.4 million for the coming year. Overall, the city expects to spend $8.4 million, up from $7.1 million last year. Thats a 9.4 percent increase.
Propane isnt the only green initiative launched by police. Mechanics outfitted 29 patrol cars with anti-idling devices that allow the cruisers full electrical system including lights, onboard camera, computer and radio to be operated without having to turn on the engine.
The anti-idling device can provide power for at least four continuous hours and automatically recharges while the car is being driven.
The city expects to save $63,000 per year with the new devices.