Going green

Published 8:48 pm Sunday, December 30, 2007

By Staff
It’s been said a penny saved here and a penny saved there ends up saving dollars everywhere.
Several North Carolina cities and towns are doing just that when it comes to saving fuel. By saving fuel, those cities and towns save some “green” while being green, according to an article in the latest edition of Southern City, a publication of the North Carolina League of Municipalities.
Matt Lail, a Southern City journalist, wrote the cover story for the December edition of the publication. In his story, Lail points out that Sanford is using regular gas in its vehicles instead of mid-grade gas.
Sanford has started using lower viscosity oil in vehicles that allow such usage.
Some cities and towns, such as Cornelius, have purchased electric vehicles. Wilmington bought its first hybrid vehicle, a 2008 Toyota Prius. That purchase will be followed by the purchase of six hybrid Toyota Camrys and two hybrid Ford Escapes. The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources helped Marshville buy a hybrid Honda Civic by providing the town a grant.
Washington and other municipalities in the region should consider similar measures when it comes to saving fuel and money in regard to its fleet of vehicles.
Carol Williams, Washington’s finance director, said she won’t be surprised if the city purchases hybrid vehicles in the near future. Williams said she envisions city employees such as meter readers driving hybrids as they perform their duties.
Washington has taken action when it comes to being green.
In May 2007, the city implemented a renewable energy facilities credit rider for electric customers who install renewable energy photo-voltaic systems in their homes and connect to the city’s system for the purpose of receiving North Carolina Green Power credits.
The city has been using less premium-grade (93 octane) gasoline and more lower-octane gasoline in some of its vehicles in an effort to reduce fuel costs. Because lower-octane gasoline sometimes results in engines in some city vehicles, particularly police cruisers, to knock and sputter, the city continues to use premium-grade gasoline in those vehicles at times, Williams said.
Eventually, it’s likely the city will wean all of its vehicles from premium-grade gasoline, she said.
Going green makes sense from an economic point of view and an environmental point of view.
Brian Hiatt, Concord’s city manager, told Lail that Concord has been aggressive when it comes to saving fuel. The city began focusing on fuel economy in 2002.
Lail said Southern City plans in future editions of the publication to run articles about cities and towns going green. The North Carolina League of Municipalities’ new president has made the publication’s “green” message a priority during her tenure as president, Lail said in an interview Friday.
Some states, counties, cities and towns are giving away green as they go green. Some cities and towns offer free parking to drivers of hybrid cars. One city offers cash rebates to its residents for installing solar panels on their homes.
If going green means saving green and protecting the environment, more counties, cities and towns should go green.