One of Waupaca’s police squad cars is now running on propane instead of on gas.
Last summer, Charter Fuels approached the city with the idea of outfitting squad cars for propane.
“It has been on the agenda, citywide, for awhile,” said Police Chief Tim Goke.
He and City Administrator Henry Veleker met with Charter Fuels, and earlier this month, the first police squad was retrofitted for propane.
“We’re starting with one squad,” Goke said. “The next, new squad is coming in January. We will outfit that one, too.”
Charter Fuels is in the process of building a propane fueling station at its Waupaca location.
“They’ll be able to use it day or night,” Josh Budworth said of Waupaca’s police officers.
Until the fueling station is operating, the police department makes arrangements with Charter Fuels when the squad needs more propane.
Budworth, who works in regional sales for Charter Fuels. said the company is happy to promote the idea.
“They’re saving green by going green,” he said. “It’s nice to see Waupaca being proactive.”
Propane currently runs about $1.50 per gallon.
The police department’s high mileage squads are the right fit for propane.
“The equipment to convert a vehicle is a little over $6,000,” Goke said. “We project on the high-mileqage squads to save $300 to $400 per month.”
The department leases the squad cat that was converted for propane.
Goke said the monthly savings will cover the lease.
“Most city vehicles don’t put on the high milage we do,” he said. “We put on between 2,000 and 3,000 miles per squad per month.”
Budworth said that in addition to the savings per gallon, the city will also see an overall emissions reduction of between 20 and 30 percent.
Goke said because propane is a lighter fuel, the city will get less miles out of a tank of propane than it would gas – a reduction in the fuel economy of between 8 and 10 percent.
However, when the cost savings per gallon are factored in, it still saves the city money.
Goke said some municipalities have gone to using natural gas.
“Propane is a cleaner burning fuel. There is no loss in performance,” he said. “In fact, there is a slight increase in power. Statistics show it is easier on the engine.”
The police chief expects that new squads will soon come out with the option right away to use propane in them.
“That would decrease the cost and make it more feasible for municipalities,” he said.
Goke said the city saw a savings of $85 in just the first four days of using propane instead of gas in the squad car.
He also noted that propane is a safe alternative.
“If the tank were to rupture, the propane would evaporate instantly versus gas, which would collect in a pool on the ground and be a hazard,” he said.