Police get Lincoln’s latest natural-gas-fueled vehicle

The Lincoln Police Department now has a new natural-gas-fueled vehicle in its fleet — and there could be more to come for the city.

Thursday, Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler accepted the keys to a Ford Fusion to be used for parking enforcement. It is the city’s fourth vehicle fueled by natural gas. The Building and Safety department has two vehicles, and Lincoln City Libraries’ Bookmobile is also a natural gas-fueled vehicle.

“Every mile our police parking enforcement officers drive this natural-gas-powered car, the city and its taxpayers are saving money and reducing our carbon footprint,” Beutler said in a press release.

Natural-gas-fueled vehicles provide economic and environmental benefits, said Milo Mumgaard, senior policy aide to the mayor’s office. The city would like to add more, but the upfront costs can be a challenge, he said.

Departments that use a lot of gas, including the Police, Building and Safety and Health Departments, are the most likely candidates, Mumgaard said.

Converting a vehicle can cost from $6,000 to $10,000 for a passenger vehicle, said Jack Schimenti, president of Lincoln Composites.

Lincoln Composites partnered with Black Hills Energy, Eric’s Electric of Lincoln and Fuel Conversion Solutions of Grain Valley, Mo., to convert the police vehicle, at no cost to the city.

Lincoln Composites, a high-pressure-gas containment manufacturer, donated the cylinder.

The Police Department could save about $2,000 a year in fuel in maintenance costs, according to estimates.

Don Nordell, director of business operations for Black Hills Energy, said natural gas has about a $1.50-per-gallon equivalent price advantage over gasoline.

“So there’s your difference in operational cost,” Nordell said.

Paul Cammack, customer relations manager for Nebraska with Black Hills Energy, said there are many good reasons to shift to natural gas.

In addition to being economical, natural gas is a domestic fuel with abundant supply, Cammack said.

Currently, the only public natural gas station in Lincoln is at the Lincoln Airport. Black Hills Energy, one of the utilities providing natural gas in eastern Nebraska, plans to open its natural gas station to the public soon, Cammack said.

One of the challenges is getting people to think of natural gas as a way to fuel their vehicles — not just warm their homes, he said.

“You don’t see natural gas fueling stations around the corner,” Cammack said.

Contact the writer:

402-478-9580, christine.scalora@owh.com​

This article was first published by Omaha.com.

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